WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two days of high drama in a Washington courtroom ended late Thursday with a convicted hijacker expressing "sorrow from the depth of my heart," and an angry judge declaring, "I don't buy it," before he sentenced the defendant to 160 years in prison.

Amid sobs and applause from victims and relatives of those killed in the 1986 hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in Karachi, Pakistan, Zaid Hassan Abd Latif Safarini -- leader of an Abu Nidal terrorist band that stormed the plane and murdered 21 passengers -- received the maximum sentence.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan made no effort to conceal his empathy for the dozens of surviving Pan Am passengers and family members of victims who had traveled from around the world to confront the brutal killer who has haunted them for 18 years.

Sullivan said he was deeply moved by two days of heart-wrenching personal stories from survivors and relatives of victims whose lives and families had been wrecked by the bloody hostage-taking and massacre.

"You are a coward and cold-blooded murderer," the judge told Safarini as he sentenced him.

"This is better than you deserve," he said of the prison sentence.

Sullivan approved the plea agreement reached last December in which the United States agreed to drop its pursuit of the death penalty in exchange for a guilty plea, for which Safarini would receive three consecutive life sentences totaling 160 years, with virtually no chance of parole.

Adding an extra dose of punishment, Sullivan said he would recommend to the Bureau of Prisons that Safarini be sent to the "Super Max" federal penitentiary in Florence, Colorado, where he could spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement.