Somali Accused in Pirate Attack Pleads Not Guilty

A Somali captured last month after U.S. Navy commandos freed an American cargo-ship captain held by pirates off the Horn of Africa pleaded not guilty to piracy charges at his arraignment in federal court in New York.

Abduwali Muse was charged May 19 by a federal grand jury on a 10-count indictment accusing him of crimes including piracy and violence against maritime navigation. He faces mandatory life imprisonment if convicted.Muse appeared today in Manhattan federal court before U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska. After his capture, a federal judge ordered him detained and rejected a claim by his lawyers that Muse is 15 years old. The judge said the slender Somali, who stands 5 feet, 2 inches, will be treated as an adult.“How do you plead sir?” Preska asked Muse today. “Not guilty,” he answered through an interpreter. Muse allegedly was among a group of pirates who overtook the Maersk Alabama on April 8 and held its captain captive for five days. The group subsequently kept the captain, Richard Phillips, 53, in a lifeboat off the Somali coast.

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