Somalis plead not guilty to US murder charges

July 20, 2011 20:00

WASHINGTON - Three accused Somali pirates charged with taking two American couples hostage in the waters off Somalia and killing them in February pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in a US federal court in Virginia.

Ahmed Muse Salad, Abukar Osman Beyle and Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar were accused of commandeering the S/V Quest yacht in February and then murdering the four Americans despite attempts by the US military to negotiate their release.

The Somalis entered their not guilty pleas to 26 counts related to the shooting, kidnapping and murdering of the two couples during an arraignment in federal court in Norfolk, Virginia, according to court records.

Most of the charges carry the death penalty if convicted.

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