A teenaged pirate captured by US forces in a high-seas drama off Somalia was ordered to stand trial here as an adult on charges that could put him in jail for life.
Abdi Wali Abdi Khadir Muse, wearing a blue T-shirt and with head lowered as he entered the court with an interpreter, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted on the most serious charge of piracy, prosecutors said.
Judge Andrew Peck ruled the young Somali would be tried as an adult after rejecting a claim by the defendant's father that Muse was only 15 years old. Prosecutors said he was over 18.
"Mr Muse's father's testimony was not credible," said Peck. "The court ruled that the defendant must be treated as an adult."
The five charges filed against Muse were piracy "under the law of nations," conspiracy to seize a ship by force, conspiracy to take hostages, and discharging and brandishing a firearm in the course of a hostage-taking.
Muse could well spend the rest of his life unless acquitted. The piracy charge alone carries a mandatory life sentence, while three other charges carry maximum sentences of life.
Muse was allegedly one of four Somali pirates who boarded the US container ship Maersk Alabama on April 8, and later fled taking its American captain, Richard Phillips, as a hostage in a small life boat.