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Jury calls for life sentences for pirates

NORFOLK, Va. — A jury recommended Friday that three Somali pirates be sentenced to life in prison in the slayings of four Americans on a yacht off the coast of Africa.

Prosecutors had sought the death penalty, and 22 of the 26 crimes they were convicted of were death-eligible offenses. But a federal jury in Norfolk, Va., recommended the only other possible sentence for 20-year-old Ahmed Muse Salad, 25-year-old Abukar Osman Beyle, and 29-year-old Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar.

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In the sentencing phase of the trial, defense attorneys attempted to raise doubts about the certainty of the crimes the jury had convicted them of. Salad attorney Claire Cardwell noted that nobody was able to definitively say which person shot which victim, and that much of the evidence presented relied on testimony of other convicted pirates.

Sentencing for the men will be in October and November.

The three men were among 19 who boarded the Quest in February 2011 off the coast of Somalia in hopes of taking the Americans back to Somalia and ransoming them for millions of dollars. The plan fell apart when the US Navy began shadowing the sailing vessel.

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.

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