Pirates Get Life for Attacking USS Ashland
Two Somali pirates have been sentenced to life in prison, and a third to 33 years, for their attack on the USS Ashland in the Gulf of Aden in 2010.
The third man received a reduced sentence for cooperating with federal prosecutors on another piracy case.
U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson begrudgingly issued the life sentences after the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that he erred by originally giving the five men convicted in the case sentences that ranged from 30 to 42 and a half years, reports The Virginian-Pilot.
Piracy carries a mandatory life sentence under U.S. federal law, but Jackson saw it as cruel and unusual punishment in this case because nobody boarded the Ashland, an amphibious dock landing ship, and no U.S. sailors were injured in the attack.
“I didn’t harm anybody. I did not injure anybody. I did not rob anybody,” Abdi Razaq Abshir Osman said through an interpreter at Monday’s sentencing.
The pirates had intended to capture a merchant ship, and mistook Ashland for one, opening fire with an AK-47 assault rifle. The Ashland returned fire with its 25mm gun, killing one of the men and causing the skiff to catch fire. Ashland then deployed her rigid-hull inflatable boats to assist the pirates who had taken to the water. All six were then brought on board Ashland where they received medical care.
Jackson called the life sentences “harsh” and “totally unjustified.”