RICHMOND, Va. — A federal appeals court on Wednesday expanded the legal definition of piracy, saying an armed attack on a U.S. vessel can be considered piracy even if no one ever boards or robs the ship.
The nearly 200-year-old U.S. Supreme Court definition of piracy has been in dispute in two attacks on Virginia-based Navy ships in April 2010 in waters off East Africa. The defendants were prosecuted in Norfolk, the first in a series of government prosecutions aimed at slowing the spread of piracy off Africa.
The court’s ruling gives prosecutors wider latitude to go after people who attack U.S. vessels, U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said.
“For decades, the international community has considered violent attacks on the high seas as an act of piracy, and today’s ruling will strengthen our ability to hold those who attack U.S. vessels by force accountable, regardless of whether they are successful…
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