Two and half years ago a gang of pirates boarded the yacht Quest and took its crew, including Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle from the Pacific Northwest, hostage. The pirates killed them. Bob was a fellow sailor and a friend. Salad, who was sentenced today, was one of three pirates who did not plead guilty. Following is the coverage from the Virginian-Pilot’s PilotOnline. –KH
A Somali pirate will spend the rest of his life in federal prison for his role in the 2011 hijacking of a sailboat off the coast of Africa that left four Americans dead.
Ahmed Muse Salad was sentenced to 19 consecutive life sentences, plus 30 years. There is no parole for defendants sentenced in U.S. District Court.
Two other Somali men convicted in the hijacking – Abukar Osman Beyle, 20, and Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar, 29 – are set to be sentenced later this week. Both are expected to receive similarly lengthy sentences.
Over the summer, federal prosecutors had argued for Salad, Beyle and Abrar to be sentenced to death. One of the 12 jurors to hear the case disagreed regarding Salad. The decision had to be unanimous.
A jury July 8 convicted Salad, Beyle and Abrar of 26 felonies.
The charges stemmed from the Feb. 22, 2011, shootings on the yacht Quest after negotiations broke down between the pirates and the Navy. The victims were Scott and Jean Adam, a California couple who owned the boat, and Phyllis Patricia Macay and Robert Riggle, both of Seattle, who had joined them on the voyage.
Prosecutors said one pirate fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the American guided missile destroyer Sterett. Shortly thereafter, Salad, Beyle and Abrar opened fire on the hostages.
During the sentencing portion of the trial, defense attorneys portrayed the pirates as poor men who grew up in a war-torn country that lacked many of the opportunities of the United States.
Prosecutors countered that being poor is no reason to “massacre” innocent Americans. Several members of the victims’ families testified about the impact the deaths have had on their lives.
Eleven of the Somali men who were captured on the hijacked yacht previously pleaded guilty to their involvement. All received life sentences.