WASHINGTON, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Five men from Somalia were convicted on Wednesday in a federal court in Virginia on piracy and other criminal charges over an April attack on a U.S. Navy ship off the coast of Africa, a Justice Department spokesman said.
The guilty verdict was reached by a federal jury in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Virginia. The five face mandatory life-in-prison terms at sentencing scheduled before a federal judge on March 14, the spokesman said.
The five men were captured after the April 1 attack in which a Navy frigate, the USS Nicholas, exchanged fire with a suspected pirate vessel in the Indian Ocean west of the Seychelles, sinking a skiff and confiscating its mother ship.
The five, and a group of six Somalis captured after allegedly firing on another U.S. warship in April, were brought to Norfolk to face charges in U.S. criminal court over the two attacks. One of the six pleaded guilty in August while the case against the others remains pending.
Pirates operating off the coast of Somalia have hijacked vessels in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden for years, making millions of dollars in ransoms by seizing ships, including oil tankers, despite the presence of dozens of foreign naval vessels. (Reporting by James Vicini; editing by Mohammad Zargham)