A judge for the US District Court Eastern District of Virginia [official website] on Monday sentenced a convicted Somali pirate negotiator to a dozen life sentences. Judge Robert Doumar sentenced [Reuters report] Mohammad Shibin to serve 10 concurrent life sentences, two consecutive life sentences and two 20-year sentences, and ordered him to pay $5.4 million in restitution. Shibin was convicted [JURIST report] in April of piracy, hostage taking, kidnapping, conspiracy, and other charges for his role in the hijacking of an American yacht that ultimately led to the murder of the four Americans taken hostage when the yacht was seized in February 2011. Shibin was allegedly paid $30,000-50,000 for his services, which included ransom negotiations and hostage background investigations. The four hostages were killed despite attempts by the US military to negotiate their release. Shibin also served as a ransom negotiator for 22 crewmen who were taken hostage when their German-owned vessel was hijacked in May 2010. The men reported being tortured during their seven months in captivity.
Last month a federal judge released an accused Somali pirate [JURIST report] after prosecutors failed to produce sufficient evidence to proceed to trial. That was the same week that the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau (IMB) [official website] reported that the number of global pirate attacks fell sharply [JURIST report] in the first half of 2012, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre [official website] (PRC) having received reports [materials] of 177 incidents in the first six months of this year, compared to 266 incidents for the same period in 2011. In May the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] ruled that the legal definition of maritime piracy [JURIST news archive] includes an armed attack to hijack a ship, even if the attempt is unsuccessful. Earlier that week a United Arab Emirates court sentenced 10 Somali pirates [JURIST report] to 25 years in prison. Also that week six accused Somali pirates went on trial [JURIST report] in a Paris court for taking 30 crew members hostage in 2008 on a ship in the Gulf of Aden. The US government in March handed over 15 suspected Somali pirates [JURIST report] it had captured in January to the Republic of Seychelles for prosecution. Italy ordered its first international piracy trial in February against nine Somali pirates, while France began its first international piracy trial [JURIST reports] in November.