By JC Leahy
A crew of 14 pirates has arrived in Norfolk, Virginia. The pirates executed everyone aboard an American vessel. The US Navy captured the pirates still aboard the American vessel and in possession of the dead American mariners’ bodies. The Navy delivered the pirates to Federal prosecutors in Norfolk earlier this month.
According to the Virginia Pilot newspaper, Federal prosecutors have filed piracy, kidnapping and weapons charges. Amazingly, prosecutors have demurred from filing ANY capital charges. (Priacy does NOT carry the death penalty under Federal law.)
These 14 men conducted themselves as pirates on the high seas and executed the entire complement of a US vessel. They were caught red-handed -- literally. They should be tried by jury for ALL applicable capital charges. Then, if found guilty, they should be remorselessly executed.
Furthermore, under both US and international law, jurisdiction for piracy cases follows pirates into whatever port they are found. These pirates are currently In the port of Norfolk, Virginia. Therefore, the Commonwealth of Virginia should get in line to try these pirates if Federal prosecutors fail to do their job.
Let me count the ways that these pirates can be charged with capital offenses:
U.S.C, Title 18, Ch. 40, Sec. 844 – Death resulting from offenses related to destruction of property related to foreign commerce
U.S.C., Title 18, Ch. 51, Sec. 1111 – First degree murder
U.S.C., Title 18, Ch. 55, Sec. 1201 – Murder in a kidnapping
U.S.C., Title 18, Ch. 55, Sec.1203 – Murder during a hostage taking
U.S.C., Title 18, Ch. 113B, Sec. 2332 – Terrorist murder of a US national in another country
For the Commonwealth of Virginia:
Virginia Title 81.2, chapter 4, section 31 – First degree murder with aggravating circumstances.
Virginia must also have laws specific to piracy, since it was the coastal governors who subdued piracy in the 17th 18th and 19th centuries.