Thursday, December 2, 2021
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Court jails two men for 2013 Westgate mall attack

A court has sentenced two men on Friday to 18 years in prison for helping gunmen from Islamist group al Shabaab storm Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in a 2013, attack that killed 67 people.

Mohamed Ahmed Abdi and Hussein Hassan Mustafa are the only people convicted in relation to the four-day assault.

They were sentenced for 18 years apiece on each of two charges brought under a national terrorism prevention act, to be served concurrently.

Abdi was given an additional 15-year jail sentence for possession of materials promoting terrorism.

“This court has to pass a sentence … commensurate with the offence,” Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi told the men as they stood in courtroom. He said the seven years they had spent on remand would be deducted from their sentences.

Andayi said they are allowed to appeal the sentences.

The attack on the upscale mall, a favourite of Kenya’s growing middle class and foreign workers, happened two years after Kenya sent troops into Somalia following a series of kidnappings and raids on her soil.

Four gunmen died during the attack and it has never been proved there were others who escaped.

A third defendant, Liban Abdullah Omar, was acquitted in the trial, which concluded on Oct. 7. He was abducted by a group of gunmen a day later after being released from custody and his whereabouts is still unknown.

The three defendants — all ethnic Somalis, two of whom are Kenyan citizens — were accused of assisting the attackers.

Kenyan authorities’ disorganised response to the Westgate attack damaged the country’s reputation.

Soldiers and police fired at each other during a chaotic four days and footage emerged of soldiers looting the complex as bodies lay sprawled on the bloodstained floors.

Al Qaeda-allied al Shabaab has staged further big attacks in Kenya, including a 2015 assault on Garissa University that killed 166 people and a 2019 attack on a Nairobi hotel and office complex that killed 21 people.


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