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DPP Keriako Tobiko tells court missing Masjid Musa suspect escaped

COAST
By Willis Oketch | February 21st 2014

By Willis Oketch

Mombasa, Kenya: The Director of Public Prosecution now claims that a missing terror suspect captured when officers stormed the controversial Musa Mosque in Mombasa escaped from police custody while he was being escorted to Makupa police station.

The suspect, Hemed Salim Hemed, had initially been linked to snatching of a G-3 rifle from the slain officer.

Hemed emerged from the mosque wet and in a vest and light pants and claimed that he was in the mosque praying with his wife, but the woman he claimed was his spouse  disowned him.

He has not been seen or heard from since after being taken away from the scene and last week his family filed a habeas corpus motion in the Mombasa High Court demanding that police produce him.

Secret jail

The family claimed they suspected police were either holding him in a secret jail or had killed him.

If the State account on Hemed is confirmed, it will challenge the integrity of lists published by police after the storming besides the handling of the raid itself. Two suspects, including one Harub Abdulswamad, fled from police as they were being escorted to the police truck outside the mosque.

On Monday, police could not produce him despite court orders and sought more time to find him.  Yesterday, State counsel Alex Muteti told the High Court in Mombasa that Hemed was never booked in any occurrence books (OB) at police stations in Mombasa County.

Muteti told Justice Edward Mureithi that Hemed was actually arrested by the police during the violence at the mosque, but  the police believe he was among the suspects who escaped.

“I wish to state that the suspect was among several others who escaped from the police custody and that is why we cannot produce him in court as was ordered,” said Muteti.

Muteti asked the court to order for an inquest into the suspect’s disappearance to enable the police establish what happened and allow the court to give further orders.

He disagreed with an application by the family lawyer Yusuf Abubakar who wanted the police officers who were guarding the suspect to be arrested and charged with murder.

Muteti insisted the court should address itself to the initial prayers by the family which he argued the police had fully complied with by admitting they cannot produce the man in court.

He denied the police were in contempt of court by failing to produceHemed in court arguing the police had given their explanation of what transpired.

The State counsel said that an affidavit signed by investigation officer Evans Wesonga had clarified the police’s position and attached statements of police officers who were guarding him before his disappearance.

Human Rights activist Okoiti Omtatah, who addressed the court, insisted the police officers who took place in the raid of the mosque should be all arrested and charged with murder.

Actionable evidence

But Muteti said the Independent Police Oversight Authority will ensure an inquest will be fair and transparent with all officers involved in the storming questioned.

“It would be completely out of step to enter the arena of summoning a County Commander before the laid down steps are followed” said Muteti.

He said the DPP will charge any officer with murder if an inquest returns actionable evidence to that effect and urged the court to disregard lawyer Abubakar’s argument , claiming it was intended at protracting the matter.

“We have offered explanation about the police’s position in line with the application which was made by the family of Hemed,” said Muteti.

Abubakar insisted the court had powers to order for the arrest of the officers suspected to have violated the rights of Hemed by detaining him without trial.

He asked the court to order for all officers who took part in the raid to be arrested because they had tortured Hemed. The judge ordered that he will give a ruling on the next cause of action today.

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