* United States v. Salad (E.D. Va. Mar. 10, 2011) (piracy indictment in the recent case in which several US citizens were killed)
The indictment is attached, and excerpts from the press release appear below:
NORFOLK, Va. – A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia has indicted 13 Somalis and one Yemeni with pirating a yacht and taking hostage four U.S. citizens, who were ultimately killed before their release could be secured.
The indictment was returned on March 8, 2011, and remained sealed until the defendants made their initial appearances before a magistrate judge in Norfolk.
According to a three-count indictment, 14 alleged pirates boarded an American sailing vessel named the Quest on Feb. 18, 2011, and held four U.S. citizens hostage for five days. The U.S. military negotiated with the alleged pirates to attempt to free the hostages. As the military continued its negotiations, at least one of the alleged pirates on board the Quest fired an RPG at a U.S. Navy ship, the USS Sterett. That same day – without provocation – at least three of the men on the Quest allegedly intentionally shot and killed the four hostages before their release could be secured.
Following the shooting of the hostages, the Somalis on the high seas were taken into custody by the U.S. military. The indictment states that the alleged pirates possessed an RPG and several AK-47 and FAL assault rifles and that the defendants threw overboard additional weapons prior to being taken into custody.
All 14 men were charged with piracy, which carries a mandatory penalty of life in prison. In addition, the indictment also charges them with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, and the use of a destructive device during a crime of violence. The latter charge carries a mandatory minimum of 30 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison, which would run consecutive to all other charges.