First Suspected Modern-Day Pirates Go On Trial In Norfolk This Week.
A group of accused pirates is set to go on trial in Virginia, and as Charles Fishburne reports, it will test some laws dating back to the 19th century.
The group of suspected Somali pirates goes on trial in fedral court in Norfolk, accused of firing on a Norfolk-based frigate sent to track them down and the jury, set to be selected this week, will be asked to decide for the first time in this country since 1819, whether someone is a pirate.
But they may be just going through the motions, because another group of Somalis accused of piracy just had their case thrown out because of a 200 year-old law. They claimed they could not be charged with piracy because the United States Supreme Court, in 1820, defined piracy as robbery at sea and there was no robbery involved.
The government has appealed, and it could eventually wind up in the Supreme Court.
But the government noted in its appeal there is a sense of urgency; the number of successful pirate attacks has risen every year for four years.
Charles Fishburne, WCVE News