A PAIR of pirates who were part of a botched attempted ransom that left four US citizens dead, have been sentenced to life in prison.
Somali's, Ali Abdi Mohamed, 30, and Burhan Yusuf, 31 admitted that they had been trawling the high seas looking for vessels to snatch and people to ransom when they came across the S/V Quest, a small yacht carrying two US couples.
Scott and Jean Adam, and Robert Riggle and Phyllis Macay didn't stand a chance as the hardened seamen boarded their ship.
After nine days, when attempts to negotiate a solution with a U.S. Navy warship failed, co-conspirators aboard the nearby hijacked vessel shot and killed the four U.S. citizens.
U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said: "This is the first case where American lives have been lost due to Somali piracy," adding that the sentences "send a message that armed attacks on the high seas carry lifelong consequences."
The pair, who both pleaded guilty to their roles in the crime are the first of 14 to be sentenced for their part in the crime which took place, just off the coast of Oman.
Court documents show that 19 Somalis were involved in the hijacking of the Quest but four were killed on the sea while one juvenile aboard the ship was not charged.
Of the remaining dozen defendants, nine will be sentenced in coming weeks.
The three others face the most severe charges, potentially carrying the death penalty, of kidnapping, hostage-taking and murder.
Janice Federcyk of the FBI's New York office told CNN the harsh sentences should "send a clear message that the days of unbridled armed robbery and extortion at sea are over."