The U.S. Justice Department charged 13 Somalis and one Yemeni with piracy and kidnapping in connection with the seizure and death last month of four Americans on a yacht in waters off the coast of Oman.
The 14 men were indicted by a federal grand jury on piracy, kidnapping and weapons charges and appeared this week before a U.S. magistrate in Norfolk, Va., Peter Carr, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride, said in an interview with Bloomberg.
A detention hearing for the defendants is scheduled for March 15, Carr said.
The Americans aboard the Quest were Scott and Jean Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., who owned the yacht, and Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle of Washington state.
"These 14 men are alleged to have been willing to do anything, including killing their hostages, in a vain attempt to obtain ransom," Janice Fedarcyk, the FBI's assistant director-in-charge of the New York field office, said in a statement. "It is a crime against the international community, a form of terrorism on the high seas."
The defendants face mandatory life sentences if convicted of the piracy or kidnapping charge, according to the Justice Department. The weapons charge has a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years, Bloomberg reported.