NORFOLK, Virginia – Five Somali men are facing piracy charges again after a federal appeals court ruled that an armed attack on a U.S. vessel can be considered piracy even if no one boards or robs the ship.
The men originally had the piracy charges dismissed by a federal judge because they never boarded or robbed the USS Ashland.
The men previously pleaded innocent, arguing they were ferrying refugees when they came upon the ship in the Gulf of Aden in 2010.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment with the new charges Wednesday. The U.S. Attorney's Office says the new indictment adds allegations that three of the defendants also went to sea to capture another vessel but were intercepted by the Royal Navy.
If convicted, they face a mandatory life sentence.