Virginia Jury Begins Deliberations in Somali Piracy Case

By Steve Szkotak | November 23, 2010 | 6:29 AM EST

Norfolk, Va. (AP) - Jurors in Virginia are scheduled to begin deliberations in the trial of five Somali men charged with piracy and accused of attacking a U.S. Navy ship of the coast of Africa.

The jury heard more than four hours of closing arguments Monday. Prosecutors say the men launched a violent attack on the crew of the USS Nicholas on April 1 after they thought it was a merchant ship. The government says the men shot AK-47s at the ship and were armed with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, but did not fire it.

Defense attorneys say the five were fishermen who attacked the ship after they were beaten and threatened by pirates.