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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pirates sentenced to life in prison

Alex Lemonde-Gray -- Furniture Today, August 23, 2011

NORFOLK, Va. — A federal court here has sentenced two Somali pirates involved in the murder of industry veteran Phyllis Macay and three other Americans during a kidnapping off the coast of Oman in February to life in prison.

Ali Abdi Mohamed, 30, and Burhan Yusuf, 31, pleaded guilty to charges of piracy.

Along with 17 other pirates, Mohamed and Yusuf hijacked Macay and her companions' small yacht, the S/V Quest. The other Americans on board were Scott and Jean Adam and Robert Riggle.

After nine days of negotiations with a U.S. Navy warship, the kidnappers shot their captives. Navy forces boarded the Quest, killing four captors in the process. Of the remaining pirates, 14 were transported to the U.S. for trial, and one juvenile aboard the vessel was not charged.

The incident marked the first instance of the death of U.S. citizens because of Somali piracy, said U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride. Monday's sentencing is the first among the 14 pirates.

Of the remaining defendants, nine will be sentenced in coming weeks. Three others face the most severe charges of kidnapping, hostage-taking and murder, which potentially carry the death penalty.

Macay was on sabbatical from her job as vice president of training development for Profitability Consulting Group, where she worked with a number of furniture retailers. She was also a veteran of the industry's educational seminar circuit at trade shows, where she discussed sales training and ways to bring customers into stores.

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