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Friday, August 19, 2011

Somali Pirate Ransom Negotiator Indicted in US

US charges accused Somali pirate negotiator again

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Somali man already facing U.S. charges of negotiating a ransom for four Americans later killed by pirates was indicted on Thursday for allegedly playing the same role in another incident with 22 hostages held seven months.

Mohammad Saaili Shibin was brought to the United States in April to face federal court charges in Norfolk, Virginia, over the pirating of an American yacht in February off the coast of Somalia and taking hostage two American couples who were later killed.

  • Shibin allegedly researched over the Internet who the hostages were to try to determine how much money to demand and the identity of their family members so he could contact them about a ransom.
  • The four slain Americans were Jean and Scott Adam of California and Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle fromSeattle.

The new charges involved a different incident. Shibin was accused of being the ransom negotiator for the pirates who seized the M/V Marida Marguerite, a German-owned vessel with a crew of 22 men, who were held hostage off the coast of Somalia for seven months, starting in May 2010.

  • According to the indictment, Shibin received $30,000 to $50,000 in U.S. cash as his share of the ransom payment.
  • "Shibin is alleged to be among the select few who are entrusted with one of the most important tasks in Somali piracy -- ensuring a ship's owners pay the maximum amount of ransom possible for the release of a hijacked vessel," U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride, whose office brought the case, said in a statement.
  • The 50-year-old Shibin now faces 15 counts, including charges of piracy, hostage taking, kidnapping and conspiracy. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

(Reporting by James Vicini; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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