Somali pirate to be sentenced in Maersk Alabama hijacking

A Somali pirate who pleaded guilty to charges that he and three other men hijacked a U.S.-flagged vessel off the coast of Somalia and took hostage its captain. That man, Abduwali Abdukhadir, will be sentenced Today, Tuesday, October 19, 2010.

Prosecutors say that Muse acted as the ringleader when he and this three cohorts seized the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama by force about 350 miles off the coast of Somalia on April 8, 2009. Once on board, the armed men demanded the ship be stopped, then abducted and held the captain of the ship, Richard Phillips, hostage on a lifeboat for four days. The USS Bainbridge, a U.S. Navy destroyer, came to the assistance of the vessel, and in radio communications, the pirates threatened to kill Phillips if they were not guaranteed safe passage away from the scene, authorities have said. Four days after the hijacking began, Muse boarded the Bainbridge and demanded safe passage for himself and the others in exchange for Phillips’ release, according to a criminal complaint. According to authorities, Muse was then taken into custody, and while he was away from the lifeboat, Navy SEALs shot and killed the three remaining pirates.

During his plea on May 18, 2009, Muse apologized for his actions and blamed the incident on the Somali government. “What we did was wrong. I am very sorry for all of this,” Muse said. “All of this happened because of the government in Somalia,” he added. In addition to the Maersk Alabama, Muse was charged with participating in the hijacking of two other vessels in late March and early April of 2009. Muse told the court that he and the three other men had agreed to “capture any ship that came by.” He added that he did not recognize the U.S. flag on the Maersk Alabama.

Muse could receive a maximum sentence of almost 34 years behind bars.