A teenager Somali pirate arrived to face court hearing Tuesday in New York what are believed to be the first piracy charges in the United States in more than a century.
The young pirate whose name is Abdiwali Abdigadir Muse, believed to be at least 18 years old, according to the court documents. He is the sole surviving Somali pirate from the hostage-taking of an American ship captain.
He was smiling handcuffed but saying nothing as he was led into a federal building under heavy guard.
A law enforcement official familiar with the case said Muse was being charged under two obscure federal laws that deal with piracy and hostage-taking.
On the same day, the teenager's mother appealed to President Barack Obama for his release. She said her son was coaxed into piracy by gangsters with money.
I appeal to President Obama to pardon my son or at least allow me to see him and be with him during the trial, Adar Abdirahman Hassan said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from her home in Somalia.
The boy's father said the pirates lied to his son, telling him they were going to get money. The family is penniless, he said.
He also said it was his son's first outing with the pirates after having been taken from his home for about a week and a half.
Both the parents said the boy is only 16 and his name is incorrect in Court documents. It proves difficult about the boy's actual age because of the anarchy that has ruled Somali for two decades.
The defendant's age could present a challenge to prosecutors and it is extraordinarily rare for the U.S. government to try teenagers with crimes.
Experts say international law recognizes that people under 18 are less mature and more easily manipulated by adults.