Somalia: Abduwali Abdukhadir Is Charged in 2 More Ship Hijackings

Published: January 13, 2010

A Somali man who was brought to New York last year and accused of piracy in the hijacking of an American-flagged cargo ship off Somalia was charged on Tuesday with leading the earlier takeover of two other ships, in which hostages were taken.
In a brief appearance in Federal District Court in Manhattan, the man, Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, pleaded not guilty to an expanded indictment that includes the new accusations.
A prosecutor, Brendan R. McGuire, told a judge that Mr. Muse threatened crew members in one of those hijackings with an improvised explosive device. And he said that crew members on one ship were “still being held hostage at this time.”
In court, Mr. Muse appeared relaxed as he sat with his lawyers, answering through an interpreter when asked by the judge, Loretta A. Preska, whether he understood his rights and the charges against him.
Mr. Muse was originally charged in the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama off Somalia. The authorities said that he was the only survivor from a group of four men who boarded the ship last April; its captain was later rescued in a daring Navy Seal operation.
The indictment does not identify the ships involved in the two previous hijackings. One was in the Indian Ocean in March when Mr. Muse and others boarded and seized control, the indictment said. The other was hijacked in April; it was from this vessel, the indictment said, that Mr. Muse and his group seized the Maersk Alabama.
Ever since he was taken into custody, Mr. Muse’s age has been in sharp dispute. His lawyers say he is under 18 and should be treated as a juvenile; prosecutors have said he is over 18.
On Tuesday, Mr. McGuire told the judge that Mr. Muse had said to a hostage in one of the previous hijackings that he was 24.
The issue is significant because it could influence the kind of site in which he could be held and, if he were convicted, the length of his sentence.
One of his lawyers, Deirdre von Dornum, told the judge that the defense anticipated filing a motion challenging the decision to try him as an adult.
After the hearing, another defense lawyer, Fiona Doherty, said only that the defense would be “actively investigating” and “defending our client against the new allegations.”
Sources: New York Times

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