Somalian men sentenced
The last of the Somalians convicted of killing four Americans aboard a yacht sailing off the Horn of Africa in 2011 have been sentenced in federal court to multiple life sentences, authorities said on Thursday. Prosecutors originally sought the death penalty, but the jury that found the men guilty in July of piracy, hijacking and murder recommended life sentences instead. The victims were retiree Scott Adam, 70, of Marina del Rey, California, with his wife, Jean Adam, and two friends, Phyllis Macay and Robert Riggle of Seattle. They were sailing around the world distributing Bibles. The Somalians boarded the yacht on Feb. 18, 2011. In the District Court, Abukar Osman Beyle, 33, Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar, 31, and Ahmed Muse Salad, 27, were each given 21 life prison sentences, plus 30 years, this week, according to a statement from acting Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Dana Boente.
Seized ivory crushed
Officials on Thursday destroyed more than 6 tonnes of confiscated ivory tusks, carvings and jewelry — the bulk of the US “blood ivory” stockpile — and urged other nations to follow suit to fight a US$10 billion global trade that slaughters tens of thousands of elephants each year. Thousands of ivory items accumulated over the past 25 years were piled into a large pyramid-shaped mound, then dumped into a steel rock crusher that pulverized it all into dust and tiny chips at the National Wildlife Property Repository just north of Denver. The items were seized from smugglers, traders and tourists at ports of entry after a global ban on the ivory trade took effect in 1989.
Teacher to plead guilty
A former Los Angeles teacher charged with blindfolding students and spoon-feeding them cookies laced with his semen has agreed to plead no contest to all charges, an attorney for some of the victims said on Thursday. Mark Berndt planned to enter the legal equivalent of guilty pleas to 23 charges at a hearing yesterday, said John Manly, an attorney who represents 30 students and their parents. Berndt taught at the South Los Angeles school for more than 30 years. The allegations against him came to light when a drugstore photo technician noticed dozens of odd photos of blindfolded third-graders and reported them to authorities. Investigators said they discovered a plastic spoon in Berndt’s classroom trash bin. Tests found traces of semen on it. Dozens of lawsuits and claims were filed on behalf of victims. School district spokesman Sean Rossall said 63 cases have been settled for a total of US$29.5 million, and 71 are pending.