Accused Somali pirate negotiator on trial in US

Federal prosecutors have started making their case against a Somali man they say is a pirate negotiator.

Mohammad Saaili Shibin faces piracy, hostage-taking and other charges for his role in the hijacking of a German merchant ship as well as an American yacht off the coast of Africa. All four passengers on the sailboat were shot and killed. Prosecutors said in opening arguments Wednesday that the crew of the German ship was tortured for months as Shibin negotiated a $5 million ransom.

Shibin attorney James Broccoletti told jurors in Virginia that Shibin was only acting as a mediator to help the hostages on the merchant ship. He also said Shibin never agreed to negotiate the release of the Americans aboard the Quest.

The trial is expected to last several weeks.