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August 18, 2010

Judge throws out piracy charges against six Somalis

In a ruling in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Va., Judge Raymond A. Jackson yesterday threw out piracy charges against six Somali men.

The six were captured after an April 10 attack on the USS Ashland in the Gulf of Aden. Another Somali was killed after the Ashland returned fire after being fired on from the skiff.

The remaining men on board the skiff were subsequently indicted on eight charges, including piracy. Though the piracy charge -- which carries a life sentence --has been thrown out, the six still face charges that carry hefty prison terms.

In dismissing the piracy charge, the Judge cited an 1820 case, United States v. Smith, that defined piracy as "robbery at sea."

Prosecutors are likely to appeal.

You can read the Judge's Memorandum of Opinion HERE


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