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US Files New Charges Against Alleged Somali Pirate Negotiator

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A man accused of negotiating a ransom on behalf of Somali pirates is facing new charges from U.S. federal prosecutors.

Mohammed Saaili Shibin was indicted this week in U.S. District Court on charges of piracy and conspiracy to commit hostage taking.

The indictment, made public Thursday, says Shibin extracted a ransom from the owners of a German-owned ship hijacked by Somali pirates last year. The owners reportedly paid $5.5 million for the release of the ship, the Marida Marguerite, and its 22 crew members.

The indictment says Shibin received between $30,000 and $50,000 as his share of the ransom.

Shibin was previously accused of piracy, kidnapping and weapons charges for his alleged role in the capture of four Americans by Somali pirates in February of this year.

Prosecutors say pirates who hijacked the Americans' yacht, the Quest, identified Shibin as their negotiator. The Americans were eventually shot and killed.

In April, the U.S. military and intelligence officials captured Shibin in Somalia and brought him to the eastern U.S. city of Norfolk, where other U.S. cases against Somali pirates are being prosecuted.

Somali pirates have made hundreds of millions of dollars hijacking foreign ships for ransom in recent years. International naval patrols near Somalia have mostly failed to stop the pirates, who possess ships and equipment that enable them to sail thousands of kilometers at sea.

Article by VOA News