Man charged with killing Judith Tebutt's husband sentenced to death

Ali Babitu Kololo, 25, who was sentenced to death yesterday by Lamu Senior Principal Magistrate Johnston Munguti on charges of abduction and robbery with violence. [Photo: Maarufu Mohamed/Standard]

By Willis Oketch

Mombasa, Kenya: The man who sparked Kenya’s invasion of Somalia in 2011 by attacking British tourists and killing one of them has been sentenced to death.

Ali Babito Kololo who has been on trial for over a year declared he had been subjected to a sham trial and proclaimed his innocence as the sentence was read out and translated to him from English to Kiswahili.

Shortly after 1pm Senior Principal Magistrate Johnstone Munguti declared that:

“After a careful consideration of the evidence, I have found that the accused was responsible for the crime of murder and kidnap metted against the couple,” referring to the September 10, 2011 attack on a tourist resort at Kiwayu in Lamu where David Tebutt was killed and his wife Judith kidnapped by suspected Al-Shabaab militants into Somalia.

“I hereby sentence him to hang first for robbery with violence as prescribed by the law and sentence him to serve another seven years in jail for the crime of abduction,” the magistrate declared after rejecting Kololo’s defence that he was also a victim of abduction.

Kololo who has been unrepresented for most of the trial and who was unable to raise a Sh1 million bond appeared shocked and depressed by the sentence. “I’m innocent and this trial was unfair. You are the judge but I have been oppressed. We shall all die,” he said.

Hawk-eyed prison warders pounced on him, cuffed him and carted away the former casual labourer at a hotel.

Kololo’s crimes brought the tourism industry to its knees and forced the US and European Union to issue travel advisories against the Coast.

Positively identified

The magistrate rejected Kololo’s defence that he was forced by the abductors to lead them the Kiwayu Safari Lodge where the crime took place. “The accused’s defence that he was also a victim of the abduction does not hold water,” said the magistrate.

Addressing the court before the magistrate in Kiswahili, Kololo who has been in custody since September 2011 when he was arrested in the vicinity of the Kiwayu Safari Lodge, said ‘I do not harbour any bitterness against the magistrate and I surrender my fate to the Almighty God.”

The magistrate said Kololo knew the scene of the crime well and other hotel workers positively identified him soon after his arrest.