RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A federal appeals court in Virginia is weighing the conviction of a Somali man called the biggest U.S. catch in the international war on piracy in waters off Africa.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges engaged in a lively back-and-fourth Tuesday with an attorney for Mohammad Saaili Shibin and a government prosecutor. Shibin was sentenced last August in Norfolk to a dozen life sentences for his role in two brutal hijackings off Africa. One involved the slayings of four Americans on their yacht by pirates in 2010.
The appeal hinges on the definition of piracy. Shibin's attorney says he was not part of the high seas attack so he could not be convicted of piracy.
The government argues Shibin's actions are defined as piracy under international law.
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, saying he should not have been convicted of piracy because he never set out on the high seas. He was a negotiator.
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