A U.S. federal judge ordered a Somali pirate on Monday to serve a dozen life sentences in prison for his role in the hijacking of a German merchant vessel and a U.S. yacht, saying the hostage negotiator was lucky he wasn't facing the death penalty.

Mohammad Saaili Shibin is considered by U.S. authorities to be the highest-ranking pirate they have ever captured. Shibin had direct ties to those who finance pirate operations from ashore in largely lawless Somalia.