NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A sentencing hearing for three Somali pirates who could face the death penalty is underway in Virginia.

Earlier this month, Ahmed Muse Salad, Abukar Osman Beyle and Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar were convicted in the 2011 shooting deaths of four Americans off the coast of Africa.

The yacht’s owners, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., and their friends, Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle, were killed several days after they were taken hostage at sea. A jury found the Somalis guilty of all 26 charges. Of those, 22 counts are eligible for the death penalty.

The sentencing phase of the trial started Monday and is expected to last up to two weeks.

The decision to seek the death penalty was made by Attorney General Eric Holder.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


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