RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Three Somali men being prosecuted on U.S. piracy charges saythey were held naked, blindfolded and handcuffed for days withoutan interpreter, while another says an interpreter threatened totoss him overboard, attorneys argued in court papers Monday.
Attorneys representing the Somalis also claim charges againstone of the defendants should be dismissed because he is ajuvenile.
In the case of two defendants, attorneys said statements the menmade shouldn't be allowed in court because they weren't advised oftheir Miranda rights to remain silent and have an attorney.
The motions filed electronically Monday were among severalsubmitted in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, where five Somalis arebeing prosecuted for the alleged April 1 attack on the USS Nicholasoff the coast of Africa.
The Nicholas defendants and six Somali men accused in the April10 attack on the USS Ashland are scheduled to be arraigned July 28on a new indictment that adds more charges. All face mandatory lifeterms if convicted of the piracy charges. Each has pleaded notguilty.
The government declined to respond Monday to the motions filedin the cases, saying it will respond in court.
The new filings expand on the defendants' version of whatoccurred when their small skiff encountered the Nicholas in thepirate-infested waters off north Africa.
In the case of Gabul Abdullahi Ali, he and two other defendantswere held for more than three days handcuffed and blindfoldedbefore an interpreter was made available, according to Ali'sattorney, William J. Holmes.
Ali does not recall ever being advised of his right to remainsilent or to request counsel, Holmes wrote.
If the government argues that point, Holmes wrote, Ali would notbe expected to understand "the terminology used in our legalsystem, which is completely foreign to him because of his lack ofeducation."
At hearings in Norfolk, none of the defendants spoke English orclaimed any formal education.
An attorney for Mohammed Modin Hasan said an interpreter toldhim the Navy would toss him overboard if he did not admit he was apirate. Hasan told investigators he was captured while fishing andforced to participate in the attack on the Nicholas, attorney JamesR. Theuer wrote.
Theuer also wrote that the alleged crimes happened beforeHasan's 18th birthday.
"Defendant Hasan does not know the day, month, or year of hisbirth, but be believes himself to be eighteen years old currently,"his attorney wrote, adding the government has the burden to provehis age.
The government alleges the five defendants left Somalia in aseagoing vessel with two smaller craft attached, seeking a merchantship. The government claims the men were armed with assault weaponsand a rocket-propelled grenade.
The five were captured after exchanging fire with the crew ofthe frigate, west of the Seychelles.
Seeking to dismiss the piracy charge, attorneys for three of thedefendants said there was "no conceivable way" the men in a smallskiff could pirate a heavily armed Navy frigate with a crew of 100highly trained sailors.
Lawyers for the accused Ashland pirates have also made the samelegal claim.
All 11 men have remained jailed in the Norfolk area since lateApril. Both ships are based in Virginia and were part of aninternational flotilla protecting shipping lanes.
Trial dates have been scheduled for September and October butare likely to be delayed because of the new indictment.
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