15 Mar 2011

Somali pirates get life sentences

10:38 pm on 15 March 2011

Five Somali men convicted of attacking a US Navy ship they mistook for a merchant vessel have been sentenced to life in prison.

The BBC reports men were found guilty in November of trying to hijack the USS Nicholas, a vessel on an anti-piracy mission.

Defence lawyers claimed the men had been abducted by pirates and forced to fire their weapons in the April attack.

The men were the first convicted of piracy by a US jury since 1820, prosecutors say.

The piracy conviction carried a mandatory life sentence.

The men were also sentenced to an additional 80 years for firearms charges in connection with the hijack attempt.