The Department of State welcomes the August 2 sentencing of three Somali pirates in the Federal District Court of Virginia for the February 2011 murder of four abducted American citizens Scott Adam, Jean Adam, Phyllis Macay, and Robert Riggle aboard the yacht QUEST off the coast of East Africa. These individuals will serve life sentences in prison, joining over 1,000 pirates operating in the region that have been brought to justice in 20 countries around the world in recent years.
On July 8, a federal jury in Norfolk, Virginia convicted the three Somali pirates on 26 counts, including piracy, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, hostage taking resulting in death, kidnapping resulting in death, and multiple firearms offenses. Eleven of the other pirates who attacked the QUEST previously pleaded guilty in federal court in 2011 and were also sentenced to life in prison. The onshore negotiator working for the pirates was also convicted and received multiple life sentences as well. We recognize the outstanding work of the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, as well as the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
While piracy remains a threat, the progress that has been made is significant. The United States has joined with more than 80 countries, international organizations and industry groups to make significant progress against piracy through the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. This unique international partnership, launched in 2009 pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1851, is contributing to a significant decline in piracy off the Horn of Africa. The last successful pirate attack on a merchant vessel in the region occurred on May 10, 2012. Today, Somali pirates hold hostage one ship and approximately 60 mariners. That is a more than 90 percent reduction in hostages held by pirates since January 2011.
We extend our condolences to the families whose lives have been forever changed by this tragedy, and will honor their memories by continued commitment to building robust diplomatic partnerships to promote maritime security worldwide.