Judge Allows US Prosecution Of Pirates In Killing Of 4 Americans

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(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

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NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled Somalia’s territorial waters extend only 12 miles from shore, allowing the U.S. to continue its prosecution of the murders of four Americans aboard their pirated yacht.

The owners of the yacht and their friends were killed in 2011 about 40 miles off the coast of Somalia. A band of pirates had taken them hostage in hopes of ransoming them for millions of dollars.

Defense attorneys for the men charged in the killings contended Somalia’s territorial waters extend 200 miles from shore, based on its domestic legislation. But prosecutors noted Somalia signed a treaty agreeing to a 12-mile limit.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith denied a motion seeking to have the murder charges dismissed. If convicted, the men could face the death penalty.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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