Jurors hear alleged pirate make demands on call, but also offer calming word after

WASHINGTON – Jurors in the piracy trial of a Somali man who served as a translator during a hostage siege heard him making demands on a recorded phone conversation with a negotiator for the ship’ owner.

But the ship’s captain at Ali Mohamed Ali’s trial also testified this week that Ali whispered a comforting word to him after the call was over: “Bluffing.”

The two images — an aggressive negotiator and a calming presence — are at the centre of Ali’s trial. The government alleges that Ali negotiated a ransom on behalf of Somali pirates during a 2008 takeover of a Danish merchant ship in the Gulf of Aden. Ali’s lawyers say he was essentially a prisoner himself and tried to help the crew as best he could.