Steve Earley/The Virginian-Pilot via AP
A U.S. jury had recommended that Somali pirates Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar (left) and Ahmed Muse Salad (right) receive a sentence of life in prison for the killing of four American citizens.
NORFOLK, Virginia— A U.S. jury has recommended that three Somali pirates be sentenced to life in prison in the killing of four Americans aboard their yacht off the east coast of Africa.
Prosecutors had sought the death penalty. But the jury recommended the only other possible sentence Friday for Ahmed Muse Salad, Abukar Osman Beyle and Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar. Formal sentencing comes later.
Del Rey Yacht Club/AP
Scott and Jean Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif. were among those killed by the pirates.
The Americans were the first U.S. citizens killed in a wave of pirate attacks that have plagued the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean in recent years.
Steve Earley//The Virginian-Pilot via AP
Prosecutors had recommended that Abukar Osman Beyle and the other Somali pirates receive a sentence of death.
The three Somali men were among 19 who boarded the yacht in February 2011 in hopes of taking the Americans to Somalia and ransoming them for millions of dollars. The plan fell apart when the U.S. Navy began following the yacht.
The Navy had told the pirates that they could keep the yacht in exchange for the hostages, but they refused to take the deal because they didn’t believe they would get enough money.
L. Todd Spencer/The Virginian-Pilot via AP
Mohammad Saaili Shibin was among those found guilty in the deadly attacks off the Somali coast.
As the yacht neared the Somali coastline, a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at the Navy ship. Soon after, gunshots were fired on board the yacht.
Nina Crossland holds up a picture of her aunt, Phyllis Macay, who was killed in the attacks.
Eleven other defendants who were aboard the yacht have already pleaded guilty to piracy and have been sentenced to life in prison.
Four other suspected pirates were killed aboard the yacht. A fifth suspected pirate was released because he was a juvenile.
Another man who prosecutors say was a land-based negotiator and the highest-ranking pirate they’ve ever captured has been convicted of piracy and sentenced to a dozen life sentences in prison.