NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - Muhammad Saaili Shibin received 12 life terms for his role in the 2010 and 2011 piracies of two yachts.
Shibin was sentenced to 10 concurrent life sentences for piracy and two life sentences for the use of a rocket propelled grenade during crimes of violence. He was also sentenced to two 20-year sentences and 10 years on six counts of discharging a weapon during a crime. Shibin was also ordered to pay a restitution of $5.4 million.
Shibin's attorney, James Broccoletti, asked Judge Robert Duomar to reconsider the jury's verdict.
"There is no question you were part of [the negotiation team] and joined it knowing what the conspiracy was," Duomar said. "You participated in the torture, and you said, 'The more torture, the more money we can get.' You became part and parcel of the operation. You joined this venture. You had a gun and you received a substantial amount of money."
Court documents revealed Shibin was the negotiator between Americans and Somali pirates in the 2011 seizure of the S/V Quest, during which four Americans were killed. Shibin conducted research on the four, determining what kind of ransom to demand. During the negotiations, the four Americans were intentionally shot and killed.
Broccoletti will appeal the case based on new court law out of the District of Columbia.
"That judge dismissed the piracy case because you had to be on the high seas. Shibin is not on the high seas, never has been on the high seas, so I think the United State Supreme Court will have to determine what is piracy," Broccoletti said.
Neil MacBride with the U.S. District Attorney's Office says the piracy of the Quest could never have happened without people Shibin who handle the finances.
"The law of piracy, as defined by the U.S. Congress 200 years ago, says if you facilitate the act of piracy, or you enable it, or you go on board to capture ships then you are on the hook legally just as much as those who capture the ship," MacBride said.
Even if the Quest sentences were overturned because Shibin wasn't on the boat, three life sentences for his role on the deck of the Marida Marguerite would still stand.
Shibin had also served as the negotiator in the piracy of the German ship M/V Marida Marguerite in Decemeber 2010. He managed to receive between $30,000 and $50,000 in U.S. currency. The 22-person crew reports they were tortured while being held hostage, and Shibin reportedly carried around an AK-47 with him.
Shibin was found guilty by a federal jury April 27, 2012 on all counts, and the death penalty was not sought because Shibin did not pull the trigger in any of the deaths.
The pirates who allegedly killed the four Americans will go on trial next June and are facing the death penalty.
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