25 Nov 2010

US court convicts Somali pirates

11:16 am on 25 November 2010

A court in Virginia in the United States has convicted five Somali men of piracy.

The five were found guilty of attacking an American frigate, the USS Nicholas, in April this year after mistaking it for a merchant ship.

The BBC reports the verdict is the first in a piracy case in the US in nearly 200 years. They face a mandatory life sentence.

The Nicholas was deployed to the east coast of Africa on an anti-piracy mission.

The five men were convicted of piracy, attacking to plunder a maritime vessel and assault with a dangerous weapon.

Lawyers for the men said they were fishermen who had been forced by pirates to attack the ship.

They maintained the defendants only fired their weapons to attract attention and get help.