A federal jury in Norfolk convicted five men from Somalia today of piracy and several other related accounts stemming from an attack on a U.S. Navy warship that the defendants thought was a merchant vessel.
It is believed to be the first piracy conviction in the United States in 190 years, according to a press release from the office of the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
During the nine-day trial, the government alleged that three defendants armed with assault rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade used a small attack boat to attempt to board the USS Nicholas, a frigate that was on patrol near the horn of Africa in response to earlier incidents of piracy.
The other two defendants remained on a larger boat from which the attack craft had been dispatched. The defendants face a mandatory sentence of life in prison when they are sentenced March by Judge Mark S. Davis.
By Alan Cooper