Debate on Piracy Definition

The government is scheduled to make its case that six Somali nationals accused in an attack on a U.S. Navy ship committed piracy.

That is a central point to be argued Thursday before a judge in Norfolk, Virginia. Several other defense motions will also be heard. The six defendants are accused in the April 10 attack on the USS Ashland. Attorneys for the men contend they did not seize or plunder the ship and therefore did not commit piracy.  All the Ashland defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges, which include mandatory life terms if convicted of piracy.

On the opposite side, taking in consideration the U.S.C. Title 18, Chapter 81, Section 1659: “Whoever, upon the high seas or other waters within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States, by surprise or open force, maliciously attacks or sets upon any vessel belonging to another, with an intent unlawfully to plunder the same, or to despoil any owner thereof of any moneys, goods, or merchandise laden on board thereof, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.” This means that they don’t have to be sucessful to be convicted.

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