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Page last updated at 09:58 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 10:58 UK

Somali 'pirate' to be tried in US

USS Bainbridge in Mombasa, Kenya - 16/4/2009
The suspected pirate was arrested by US sailors while rescuing a US hostage

A Somali teenager captured by the US navy during a confrontation with pirates is to be taken to the US to face trial, US officials have said.

The man, named as Abdul Wali Muse, was allegedly involved in the attempt to seize the Maersk Alabama merchant ship off Somalia last week.

His three companions were killed by US navy snipers in the operation to rescue the Alabama's kidnapped US captain.

Capt Richard Phillips is now returning to the US from Kenya after his ordeal.

US officials say Mr Muse will be tried in a federal court in New York, American media have reported.

There is some confusion about his age, however, and whether he can be tried as an adult in the US.

No charges have been filed, but acts of piracy can carry a sentence of life in prison, says the BBC's Jonathan Beale in Washington.

Hero's welcome

It is not clear when Mr Muse will be taken to the US.

US officials had considered handing him over to authorities in Kenya, which has prosecuted pirates in the past under an international agreement.

On Thursday, French officials said they would send 11 suspected pirates to Kenya for trial.

There has been pressure to prosecute him in an American court as the Maersk Alabama is a US-flagged ship and Capt Phillips is an American citizen, says our correspondent.

Capt Phillips in Mombasa airport, Kenya, about to fly home to US - 17/4/2009
Capt Phillips was freed in a dramatic high seas rescue

He was held hostage for five days after the Alabama was attacked on 8 April.

The crew disabled the ship's power and hid from the pirates while Capt Phillips offered himself as a hostage, the ship's crew said.

The crew sailed the ship to Kenya after the pirates left on a lifeboat with the captain.

The other 19 members of the crew returned to the US on Thursday to be greeted by cheers and hugs from family and friends.

After his rescue, Capt Phillips was taken on board the destroyer USS Bainbridge, which has been in the waters off Somalia conducting anti-piracy patrols.

He was taken to the Kenyan port of Mombasa on Thursday and is now on his way back to the US where he is expected to receive a hero's welcome.

Anti-piracy measures

Pirates operating off the coast of Somalia have intensified attacks on shipping in recent weeks in one of the world's busiest sea lanes, despite patrols by the US and other navies.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled a plan on Wednesday to tackle piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean off Somalia.

She said an expanded international effort was needed, as well as freezing pirates' assets, and plugging gaps in the shipping industry's own defences.

Improving the situation in Somalia itself was also key, she said.



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