NORFOLK, Va. - A Somali pirate leader and an armed guard aboard a yacht where all four Americans aboard were killed off the coast of Africa were sentenced to life in prison yesterday.
The owners of the Quest, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., along with friends Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle, were shot to death in February, several days after being taken hostage hundreds of miles south of Oman.
They were the first Americans killed in a wave of piracy that has plagued the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.
Mohamud Salad Ali and Ahmed Sala Ali Burale are the fifth and sixth men who have pleaded guilty to piracy in the case to be sentenced. Ali received a second life sentence that he will serve concurrently with the other one because he also pleaded guilty to hostage-taking resulting in death.
That charge carried the possibility of the death penalty, but prosecutors agreed to the lesser sentence as part of a plea deal. Ali has detailed for investigators how piracy operations in Somalia work and has agreed to help prosecutors. Of the 19 men who originally boarded the Quest, 11 have pleaded guilty, four were killed, three are facing murder charges, and one was released because he was a juvenile.