Three Somalis face murder charges in the deaths of four Americans
According to The Los Angeles Times, in the first U.S. trial of its kind in modern times, three Somalis face murder charges in the deaths of four Americans after hijacking their sailboat in 2011. Somali piracy since then has all but vanished.
Long before a retired Southern California couple and two friends were shot and killed aboard their sailboat off the Horn of Africa in February 2011, the threat from Somali pirates was frighteningly clear.
Since 2005, heavily armed Somalis in jury-rigged speedboats had hijacked scores of oil tankers, cargo ships and private yachts, holding hundreds of crew members hostage for lucrative ransoms. The brigands had crippled shipping in some of the world’s busiest sea lanes, costing companies an estimated $5 billion a year.
But as three accused pirates face trial Tuesday in Norfolk, Va., on charges of murder in the deaths of the four Americans, the first U.S. trial of its kind in modern times, Somali piracy is in sharp decline.
An international naval operation, combined with aggressive prosecutions and shipboard security measures, have nearly halted the Indian Ocean crime wave in the last two years. Dozens of nations have deployed warships, U.S. Navy drones have provided aerial surveillance, European jets have struck pirate lairs, and 21 countries have jailed more than 1,100 suspected pirates.
Some governments, including Iran, China and India, also have taken unilateral action, sending warships to escort convoys of tankers and commercial ships through waters once infested with pirates.
Source: Shashank Bengali, Los Angeles Times
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