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I was framed for Mpeketoni killings over land row, suspect tells court

COAST
By Joackim Bwana | February 2nd 2016

A man charged with involvement in the June 15, 2014 mass killings in Mpeketoni has said he was framed.

Mahadi Swaleh Mahadi alias Jesus said he was fixed for the June 15, 2014 killings due to  tussles with squatters who had occupied his ranch in Lamu.

 He is charged alongside Ahmed Diana for the murder of close to 60 people that was that was claimed by Al Shabaab.

On Friday the court said the State had demonstrated an arguable case against the two and ordered them to launch a defence, which they began yesterday.

State witnesses had claimed Mahadi participated in the violence, with some claiming they saw him among the militants that perpetrated the killings.

Last year, his lawyer told the court that his client's cellphone was traced to Malindi during the time of the killings.

Mahadi yesterday said a long-standing dispute with local squatters on his Bujra Ranch was the sole reason he was arrested and charged for the killings.

Mahadi, who gave sworn evidence, claimed that prior to the killings, he had sought police help on many occasions to evict squatters from the ranch.

"The ranch at Bujra in Lamu County is the reason why I am in courts today being accused of murdering over 60 people in Hindi and Witu.

"All the witnesses who testified against me lied about my participation in the attacks at Witu and Hindi because I was in Malindi," he submitted.

Mahadi, a businessman and farmer who also owns land in Malindi, denied financing and causing death of 60 people in Mpeketoni and said the ranch in question is nowhere near Gamba or Hindi.

He said on the nights of the attacks - June 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18, 2014 - he was in Malindi and never at any point did he leave Malindi.

He confirmed as true Safaricom data showing his phone calls on the said dates that indicated he was in Malindi.

"The phone data shows that I was in Malindi on the dates of the attack, and I never crossed Sabaki Bridge and I never gave any money, nor do I have the means, and I was never involved in any killings," said Mahadi.

He said a contingent of police officers from the GSU, DCI and Administration Police had arrested him at his mother's house in Malindi on July 7, 2014, shortly after opening the evening Ramadhan prayers.

He emphasised that he was not a member of the Al Shabaab or any illegal group.

"I am an innocent citizen and I have never been arrested with any offence and it is the land dispute that got me to courts," said Mahadi.

He added: "I was with my phone in Malindi all the time. No one touches my phone, not even my wife."

Mahadi insisted that the Bujra Ranch belonged to their family since 1987 and he was managing it on behalf of his grandsons, adding that he had allowed the Ormas, Elgeyos and Somalis to graze their cattle at the ranch.

He admitted there were several conflicts over the ranch.

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