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Pirate leader sentenced to death in Somalia

From Mohamed Amiin Adow, For CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The condemned killed the Pakistani captain of a commercial ship
  • The pirate leader is on the run
  • Seven other pirates were sentenced, for up to 17 years

(CNN) -- A court in northeast Somalia has sentenced a pirate leader to death in absentia, according to prosecutors.

Pirate leader Salad Mohamud Gelle killed a Pakistani captain aboard a commercial ship in June, the general prosecutor of the semi-autonomous region of Puntland said on Tuesday. Gelle and other Somali pirates had hijacked the ship in Somali waters.

The court in the port city of Bosaso sentenced at least seven other pirates to terms of 10 to 17 years, said general prosecutor Mohamed Hassan Aw Osman.

The seven others appeared in court, but Gelle is on the run.

Evidence was based on interviews with the hostages on the ship, which Puntland security forces freed, the prosecutor said.

The MV Dubai was carrying sugar to the port of Berbera in Somaliland, a breakaway republic in northern Somalia.

"We are sending a very strong and clear message to other pirates in our area: Stop the piracy, or we are coming to you," Osman said.