Somali Pirate Gets 33 Years in Prison
Federal judge says Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse deserves his harsh sentence
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 16, 2011 2:21 PM CST
A 2009 file photo of Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse.   (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano, File)

(Newser) – A Somali pirate who kidnapped and brutalized the captain of a US-flagged merchant ship off the coast of Africa in 2009 was sentenced to more than 33 years in prison today by an emotional judge who told him he deserved a stiff punishment for leading a crew of bandits who "appeared to relish their most depraved acts." A tense standoff ended when Navy sharpshooters killed three of Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse's men and freed captain Richard Phillips. The judge quoted a letter Phillips wrote in which he said modern piracy "is not a Disneyland-esque problem. These are not Johnny Depps. They threaten seamen's lives, repeatedly."

Muse pleaded guilty last year to hijacking, kidnapping, and hostage-taking charges. Before he was sentenced, he apologized to the victims, claiming he was a desperate, small-time player in a Somali piracy syndicate. "I'm very sorry for what I did," he said through an interpreter. "I got my hands into something that was more powerful than me." Muse's mom thinks he was brainwashed by other pirates. Click for that story.