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Somali sentenced to 25 years for armed piracy incident

By Jim Barnett, CNN Senior Producer
  • D.C. court rules in 2008 case that involved a Danish vessel
  • Man and rest of crew held ship for 71 days

(CNN) -- A Somali man was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison for armed piracy in an attack on a Danish merchant ship that began in 2008 and lasted for 71 days.

Jama Idle Ibrahim, aka Jaamac Ciidle, and other pirates held the vessel, the M/V CEC Future, from November 7, 2008, until January 16, 2009 in the Gulf of Aden.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia gave Ibrahim the maximum penalty of five years in prison for the piracy conspiracy charge and the maximum penalty of 20 years for the firearm conspiracy charge.

The 39-year-old Somali pleaded guilty last year. This is the first conviction in the District of Columbia for a piracy-related offense.

According to the Justice Department, the pirates approached the ship in high-speed boats, firing their weapons. They held the ship, cargo and 13 crew members for ransom and forced the crew to anchor in waters off the Somalia coast. During the takeover, additional pirates boarded. They threatened the crew, controlled their movements and stole money, food and supplies.

The M/V CEC Future was released after the ship's owner, the Clipper Group, paid a $1.7 million ransom.

"Modern-day pirates are nothing like the swashbuckling heroes in Hollywood movies," said U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen in a statement. "Today's pirates are ruthless criminals who hold ships and their crews hostage with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades."

In November 2010, Ibrahim was sentenced to 30 years in prison in the Eastern District of Virginia following a guilty plea to charges stemming from an April 10, 2010, pirate attack on a U.S. Navy vessel, the USS Ashland, in the Gulf of Aden. The sentence from the District of Columbia is to run concurrently with the sentence from Virginia.