The unidentified man, 44, was found guilty of extortion. He was involved in the hijacking of the chemical tanker Marida Marguerite near Oman, which included the torture of the mostly Indian crew in an eight-month ordeal. The hostages were released in December 2010 after a $5 million ransom was paid by the German shipping company that owns the vessel.
The crew suffered “cruel treatment, torture and mock executions,” a court statement said. Prosecutors could not prove the man was the ringleader of the pirate group, but convinced the court he had at least tolerated the torture of the hostages.
He guarded his captives with an automatic rifle, made key decisions aboard the hijacked ship, and was among the last to leave the ship, the court said.
The trial was the second in Germany against Somali pirates. A Hamburg court convicted 10 men who hijacked a German freighter in 2012.
The number of pirate attacks on the sea fell from a high of 176 in 2011 to only seven in 2013, the European Union Naval Force Somalia reported.