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Piracy charges thrown overboard

A Norfolk federal judge has dismissed piracy charges against a band of Somalis accused of trying to board and rob a U.S. Navy ship.

The defense attack on the piracy counts called for interpretation of a U.S. statute that had not been applied since the days of Blackbeard. As The Wall Street Journal reported, the lawyers built their arguments on court decisions both ancient and foreign.

Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson held the piracy law did not apply to alleged bandits who only tried – without success – to commit robbery on the high seas.

As The Virginian-Pilot reports, the decision leaves the band of six Somalis facing lesser charges. The threat of life sentences is removed, at least for now.

By Peter Vieth

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