INTERTANKO applauds the result of a plea bargaining agreement in the U.S. whereby a Somali national, who a few weeks ago escaped trial when a U.S. federal judge threw out a case accusing him and five colleagues of piracy, has pleaded guilty to piracy-related acts and will receive a significant prison sentence.
Jama Idle Ibrahim, who took part 10 April in an attack on a U.S. Navy vessel, USS Ashland, in the Gulf of Aden after mistaking it for a merchant ship, has pleaded guilty to piracy-related acts including attacking to plunder a vessel, engaging in an act of violence against people on a vessel, and the use a firearm during a crime of violence. The more serious charge of piracy was dismissed a few weeks ago by a federal judge because the group did not rob, board or take control of the USS Ashland but only attempted to do so.
Under a plea bargaining agreement, we understand that the man is likely to receive a 30 year prison sentence, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
This decision sends a clear warning to those involved in attacks on merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden, that such illegal behaviour will not be tolerated. It may also encourage naval vessels to arrest pirates caught red-handed rather than letting them go because of difficulties in obtaining prosecutions under national and state jurisdiction – as happened recently in the case of the USS Kauffman which stopped an assault on the suezmax tanker Ice Explorer in the Internationally Recognised Transit Corridor, boarded a pirate skiff, confiscated pirate equipment but failed to make any arrests.