NORFOLK(AP) -- A federal judge has denied a request to move a Somali piracy and murder trial out of Norfolk.

Ahmed Muse Salad, Abukar Osman Beyle and Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar are charged in the shooting deaths of four Americans aboard a yacht off the coast of Somalia.

Defense attorneys for the men had argued publicity about case and the region's heavy military presence prejudiced potential jurors. Norfolk is home to the world's largest naval base and its ships regularly deploy to the coast of Africa to fight piracy.

But in a ruling last week, Chief U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith wrote that an immediate transfer of venue isn't justified.

If convicted, prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty. Smith also denied a motion to block that potential sentence.

AP-WF-11-29-12 1532GMT

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