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Somali pirates found guilty in deaths of American boaters

Three Somalis were convicted Monday of piracy, kidnapping and murder in the 2011 shooting deaths of four Americans sailing in the Indian Ocean off Oman and could face the death penalty.

The three men — and 11 others who previously pleaded guilty — boarded the Americans’ yacht armed with assault rifles and planned to sail it to Somalia and hold the Americans for ransom. Instead the pirates killed the hostages as U.S. military forces trailed them, according to Reuters.

A federal jury, which has been hearing the case since early June in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Va., found Ahmed Muse Salad, Abukar Osman Beyle and Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar guilty on all 26 counts, the news service reported court records showing.

The jury will hear more evidence later this month during the sentencing phase of the trial.

Scott and Jean Adam, retirees from Marina del Rey, Calif., and their friends Phyllis Macay and Robert Riggle, both of Seattle, were killed aboard the California couple’s 58-foot sloop Quest.

Prosecutors have said all four passengers were asleep when the boat was boarded on Feb. 18, 2011, by the armed assailants. Negotiations at sea by U.S. Navy officials to free the Americans failed after four days, according to the indictment. Navy SEALs subsequently raided the yacht, killing two of the hostage-takers and capturing the rest.

Some of the most emotional testimony during the trial came from Elizabeth Sem, daughter of yacht owner Scott Adam.

She was quoted in press accounts as saying that her father, who had worked on the production crew of movies and TV shows that included “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “The Love Boat,” attended a theological institute after he retired.

His sea voyages were part of his ministry, she said, adding that he handed out Bibles to people he met along the way.

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