A young Somali man, the only survivor of a pirate attack on a U.S. cargo ship earlier this month, is appearing before a U.S. federal judge Tuesday to face charges.
Abdiweli Muse will be the first person tried in the U.S. for piracy in more than a century, even as his parents plea for leniency.
U.S. officials said Muse is 18 years old, but Abdilkadir Muse, the teenager's father, told VOA's Somali service his son is only 16 and came under the influence of gangs and money.
The pirate's mother has appealed to U.S. President Barack Obama to release her son.
Muse was in handcuffs and shackled but smiled as he arrived at a federal detention center in New York City Monday night.
Muse and three other pirates seized control of the Maersk Alabama on April 8 as the tanker was carrying emergency food aid for East Africa.
Muse was injured in a skirmish with the crew and was in the custody of the U.S. military while his accomplices took the ship's captain, Richard Phillips, hostage.
Four days later, U.S. Navy SEAL snipers shot and killed the three other pirates.
Abdullahi Ali, a Somali political analyst, told VOA's English to Africa service that it would have been better if Muse had faced charges in his native country. Ali said the trial would then have sent a warning to other pirates operating in the region.
Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991 when warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and began fighting each other.