Wonderland Wire

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Teenage Somali Pirate Charged as Adult in New York

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30 Apr 09 | NYT

The federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan is a towering presence, more than big enough to have handled such history-in-the-making cases involving a Gotti, a Madoff, and several men who have pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden.

But now there is the singular case of Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, a Somali who speaks no English, is of uncertain age, and is being prosecuted under a federal law that has not been used in many decades and carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

On Tuesday, less than two weeks after the government says Mr. Muse and three other men took command of an American cargo ship off the coast of Africa, Mr. Muse was sitting in a packed courtroom, almost swallowed up by a large chair, his left hand bandaged heavily, as lawyers and a federal magistrate judge wrestled for more than an hour just to figure out how old he was.

The judge, Andrew J. Peck, over objections of prosecutors and reporters, emptied the courtroom, then listened as Mr. Muse’s father, via a telephone hookup from Somalia and through an interpreter, testified that his son was born Nov. 20, 1993 — making him 15. >>>

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Written by Editors

30 April 2009 at 3:09 pm

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