RICHMOND, Virginia — A judge on Tuesday dismissed piracy charges against
six Somali men accused of attacking a Navy ship off the coast of
Africa, concluding the US government failed to make the case their
alleged actions amounted to piracy.
The dismissal of the piracy count by US District Judge Raymond A.
Jackson tosses the most serious charge against the men, but leaves
intact seven other charges related to the alleged April 10 attack on the USS Ashland in the Gulf of Aden. A
piracy conviction carries a mandatory life term.
Defense attorneys argued last month that the Ashland defendants did not meet the US legal definition
of piracy because they did not take command of and rob the amphibious
dock landing ship.
Jackson agreed in his ruling, finding that the government "failed to
establish that any unauthorized acts of violence or aggression committed
on the high seas constitutes piracy as defined by the law of nations."