Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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May 7, 2013

Attorneys: Accused pirate ineligible for death

NORFOLK, Va. — Defense attorneys say a Somali man charged with piracy and murder in the deaths of four Americans is ineligible for the death penalty because he’s mentally disabled.

Ahmed Muse Salad is one of three Somalis facing a number of charges that could bring the death penalty arising from the February, 2011 hijacking of the yacht Quest. In all, 22 of the 26 counts with which the defendants are charged are death-eligible offenses.

A hearing on defense attorneys’ claims that Salad is intellectually disabled was held in federal court in Norfolk on Tuesday. Defense documents say Salad has a low IQ, a poor memory and had difficulty functioning as a child. Prosecutors say Salad is competent.

A judge is expected to issue a written ruling ahead of the June trial.

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