The surviving Somali accused of hijacking the Maersk Alabama and taking its American captain hostage off the eastern coast of Somalia should be tried as an adult for piracy and hostage-taking, a federal judge in New York City, ruled yesterday, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse was remanded to custody without bail. He is the first person in more than a 100 years to face piracy charges in the United States.
A dispute about Muse’s age prompted Judge Andrew Peck to close the hearing to the public temporarily. Federal prosecutors allege that he is 18 years old, but defense attorneys say he is as young as 15 and should be tried as a juvenile. After hearing the arguments behind closed doors, Peck ruled that Muse would be tried as an adult and reopened the hearing. Defense attorneys may appeal. “If they decide to treat you as a juvenile, there are different consequences,” says Jim Cohen, a criminal law professor at Fordham Law School. “The penalties are much less if one is found to be a juvenile delinquent.”