This is IN THE NEWS in VOA
government lawyers this week brought criminal charges against a young Somali
man in connection with a ship hijacking earlier this month. They say Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse is the only survivor of a hijacking attempt on an American ship
off the coast of Somalia on April eighth.
The capture of the Maersk Alabama made
news around the world. The four pirates released the ship and its crew. But
they took the ship's captain hostage in a small boat. Four days later, American
Navy forces killed three of the hijackers and rescued the captain, Richard
Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse was flown from Africa to New York City, where he was charged
Tuesday with five crimes, including piracy and hostage-taking. A New York
federal court judge has ruled that Mister Muse is at least eighteen years old
and can be tried as an adult. But his mother has said he is just sixteen years
old. That could create a problem for government lawyers seeking the most severe
punishment for the accused -- spending the rest of his life in prison.
International law has less severe punishments
for criminals under the age of eighteen.
Mister Muse's true age is difficult because birth documents are rare in
Somalia. The country has not had an effective government for almost twenty
International Maritime Bureau is an organization based in London that studies
crimes on the high seas. The
organization says the waters off the coast of Somalia, including the Gulf of
Aden, are the most dangerous in the world for international shipping.
The Bureau says pirates carried
out more attacks last year in the area than ever before. However, information
gathered for the first three months of this year suggest two thousand nine will
be even worse. Pirates have attacked at least sixty-one ships so far, compared
to six for the same period last year.
say pirates now control at least seventeen ships and three hundred crew members.
The amount of money paid to hijackers is harder to confirm. Researchers believe
this year's total is in the tens of millions of dollars.
recent years the international community has deployed navy ships to guard the
area in an effort to fight piracy. Ships from the United States and the
European Union are involved in the effort.
In addition, Russia, China and India also have ships in the area.
prime minister is calling for a halt to ransom payments to pirates and
kidnappers. Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke says the large amounts being paid are
part of the reason for the rise in hijackings. Somalia's weak central government must deal
with a deadly rebellion inside the country and is unable to police its waters.
Mister Sharmarke says piracy can only be prevented when Somalia has a
government that can enforce its own laws.
On Thursday in Brussels, international
donors promised more than two hundred fifty million dollars to improve security
that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm