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Police re-arrest terror suspect hours after he's freed by court

COAST
By Willis Oketch | February 3rd 2015

Anti-terror police raided a flat in Mombasa Monday evening to re-arrest a prominent Somali national, four hours after a magistrate had terminated a police investigation linking him to claims of financing terrorism in Kenya.

It is not clear why he was re-arrested and reports indicated that he was to be flown to Nairobi.

It was a day of drama in and outside the imposing Likoni Towers in Mombasa where dozens of General Service Unit officers and plainclothes anti-terror police stormed the second-floor house belonging to Aweys Omar Ossoble, a wealthy refugee from Somalia who came to Kenya 19 years ago, demanding to arrest him.

Mombasa police commander Robert Kitur told The Standard he had no information on why the suspect was re-arrested “because I have not been briefed”.

Mr Ossoble had locked himself in the house together with his relatives when police came calling, hours after Chief Magistrate Maxwel Gicheru set him free.

Significantly, the magistrate set him free saying he found no evidence linking him to terror activities.

Anti-terror police arrested him on December 15 last year.

Mr Gicheru freed him after police stopped a probe linking him to terrorist financing in Kenya.

Outside the Mombasa law courts earlier, his lawyer had claimed the attempt to re-arrest Ossoble was orchestrated by the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), a claim dismissed by the KDF spokesman.

GSU officers in two Land Rovers arrived at Ossoble’s house and surrounded it. Reports said some detectives from Nairobi were also involved in the raid.

A senior police officer at the scene who requested not to be named said there were orders to “re-arrest the suspect and we shall not leave this place until he comes out of his house”.

KDF spokesman David Obonyo said arresting and investigation were the work of the police, not the military, but he asked the suspect to forward any complaints against any soldier to the military for investigation.

“KDF personnel are law-abiding citizens who cannot interfere with internal work being done by the police. We also respect anything that has gone through judicial processes and that is why I am asking anybody with a complaint against the military to write to us so it can be addressed adequately,” said Col Obonyo.

Terminate case

In the morning, Gicheru ordered the police to release the suspect’s refugee identity card and passport after prosecutor Eugene Wangila applied to terminate the case against Ossoble and Issa Omar Matan.

When anti-terror police first arrested Ossoble in December last year, they successfully applied to have him locked up for 20 days.

He was set free on bond on January 5 and has since claimed harassment by officers he alleges are from the Kenyan military.

Monday, his lawyer Jared Magolo said there was no reason to continue harassing his client after police investigated him for 30 days and found no criminal evidence against him.

“The police later returned a verdict of not guilty and filed the report in court exonerating my client from any accusations,” said Mr Magolo who added that his client told him some military officers had gone to his house and threatened him with arrest.

Monday, Magolo asked the magistrate to give orders so his client could be protected from harassment.

He claimed the threats amounted to blackmail and torture and asked the court to supply him with proceedings of the case.

Formal complaint

In court, Mr Wangila said it was true the police had no case against the suspect but added that he had not received complaints of harassment of the suspect from Magolo.

“My honour, I am not aware of complaints the defence counsel is raising. But if any offence has been committed, there is a procedure to be followed; as of now I know the police have no case against the two,” said Wangila.

The magistrate ordered Magolo to make a formal complaint by filing the matter and making an application.

Magolo accused some security personnel of harassing his client over claims he was behind the funding of terrorism.

The magistrate ordered that Magolo should be given the proceedings.

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