Judge orders Somali 'pirate' released

2012-07-25 09:18


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - A judge on Tuesday ordered the release of an alleged Somali pirate to home confinement while the government pursues an appeal that could delay his trial until next year.

The trial of Ali Mohamed Ali was scheduled to begin next week. But prosecutors said on Tuesday they planned to appeal portions of a pre-trial ruling by US District Judge Ellen Huvelle that went against the government, likely delaying the case for months.

"Why should I keep him locked up for another year so you can litigate a principle?" she said to prosecutors. Huvelle agreed to have Ali stay under home confinement at a friend's house in nearby Centreville, Virginia, while his trial is pending. The friend said he knows Ali from "way back in Somalia."

Ali, 50, attended the hearing in an orange prison uniform, wearing glasses and sporting a shaved head, but he was not released at the end of the session. His lawyers said he probably would remain in jail for another 24 hours to see whether US Immigration and Customs Enforcement picks him up. Huvelle said ICE should only be able to detain him if it plans to deport him, and ordered that the agency notify her and the parties in the case 24 hours before it tries to take him into custody.

Ali is accused of negotiating a ransom payment during a November 2008 pirate takeover of a Danish merchant ship in the Gulf of Aden. He was indicted for conspiracy to commit piracy; piracy under the law of nations; conspiracy to commit hostage taking; and hostage taking. On 13 July, Huvelle dismissed the conspiracy to commit piracy count, and ruled that for the other piracy count the government would have to prove that Ali "intentionally facilitated acts of piracy while he was on the high seas" — and not in Somalia's territorial waters or somewhere else.

When the government said it would appeal that ruling, Huvelle said she'd dismiss both hostage-taking charges. The judge had indicated on Friday she might not do that after learning that Ali had been in international waters for only 24 to 28 minutes. At last week's hearing, the judge told prosecutors they had misled her about the case, and called their behavior inexcusable.

On Tuesday, she said there was no evidence that Ali engaged in violence, and said the government's case lacked a "smoking gun." She wondered aloud how Ali came to be "Public Enemy No. 1".

Prosecutor Brenda Johnson argued that Ali was a flight risk and that he should continue to be detained. She said that when he came to the US last year he had two passports with two different birthdays listed. But Huvelle said she didn't consider Ali to be a flight risk. She ordered that he wear a monitoring bracelet and that he leave the house only to meet with his lawyer or to go to mosque once a week.

Read more on:    us  |  somalia  |  east africa  |  somali pirates

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Millions of plastic particles in our food!

Scientists and researchers believe that almost five million tons of plastic is dumped in the oceans every year and it’s affecting our food.



Plastic on your plate
Prince George the green prince?
Lean, green, drifiting machine
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

It may be hard to maintain a steady rhythm as you find yourself juggling a zillion things. Slow down a little and let go of some...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.