NORFOLK, Va. – Jury selection is scheduled to begin in the Virginia piracy trial of five Somali defendants accused of attacking a U.S. Navy ship off the coast of Africa.
U.S. District Judge Mark S. Davis will preside over the trial, which begins Tuesday in Norfolk. If convicted of the piracy charge, the five Somali nationals face mandatory life terms.
The defendants are accused in the April attack on the USS Nicholas, which was part of an international flotilla combating piracy in the seas off Somalia.
According to court filings, the government is expected to call as an expert witness the chief of the counter-piracy branch of the Office of Naval Intelligence.
Legal scholars say this is the first piracy prosecution to go to trial in the U.S. since the Civil War.