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3 Somali pirates may be put to death

NORFOLK, Va. — All three Somalis convicted by a federal jury on murder, piracy, and other charges stemming from a yacht hijacking that left four Americans dead will face potential death sentences at sentencing later this month, including a man defense attorneys had claimed was mentally handicapped.

Court records show the jury found Ahmed Muse Salad, Abukar Osman Beyle, and Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar guilty on all 26 counts against them late Monday.

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The charges stemmed from the hijacking of the yacht Quest in February 2011. The yacht’s owners, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., and their friends, Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle, were shot to death several days after they were taken hostage at sea as the US Navy tried to negotiate their release.

Prosecutors said Salad, described by defense attorneys as mentally handicapped, is competent. Late Monday, Chief US District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith issued an order concurring with that assessment.

The sentencing phase of the trial would begin July 22.

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