I am a victim of mistaken identity, claims Mpeketoni mass murder suspect
By Willis Oketch | February 3rd 2016
A key suspect in the 2014 Mpeketoni mass murders yesterday told a judge that Al Shabaab militants spared him after he recited the Shahada.
Shahada is the Muslim declaration of faith.
The suspect, a Muslim, said the militants beat him up demanding to know his religion after he told them that his surname was Diana.
Suleiman Salim Diana is charged together with Mahadi Swaleh Mahadi for the murder of 60 people in Mpeketoni, Lamu County, on June 14, 2014.
Both have denied the charges and claim they were framed or were victims of mistaken identity.
Yesterday, Mr Diana began his defence by alleging that he himself was a victim of the militants he had ferried by van from Mombasa after being made to believe the killers were a wedding party headed for Kipini in Tana River.
He claimed he and a second driver and turn boy, who were killed by militants at Mwembe Saba in Lamu, were hired by the criminals in Mombasa.
He told Justice Martin Muya that on reaching Mwembe Saba at around 7pm on June 15, 2014 the militants assumed their true colours and were joined by heavily armed militiamen who emerged from the bushes and begun to harass and beat them up demanding to know their faith.
He claimed that the militants were enraged when they learnt that his name was Diana, a name associated with non-Muslims, and struck him in the face with a gun butt.
He claimed that he shouted “La ilaha illa Allah wa Muhammad Rasul Allah” or “None to be worshiped but Allah and Mohamed is his prophet”, causing the militants to pull back and untie him. But they executed Jacob who was the driver of the other van, and his brother, after they admitted they were Christians. The militants, Diana said, taunted Jacob and his brother as they killed them.
“As Jacob and his brother were being tied up, I was ordered not to look behind where they were being manhandled. I heard a gun shot in the bush where we had been assembled,” said Diana who added that after the killings, the militants left him in the bush with the corpses.
Diana is represented by AB Olaba while Mr Mahadi is represented by Taib Ali Taib. The prosecution is led by Assistant Director of Prosecutions Alex Muteti.
“I was left with the two bodies in the bush. I later decided to walk towards Witu town and fortunately a bus heading to Lamu emerged,” said Diana who claimed he hitched a lift from a bus.
He claimed that he told the bus occupants what had happened and asked them not to stop anywhere in the vicinity for security reasons.
Diana told the court that he and other passengers tried to report the matter at Witu and Mkunimbi police stations but police officers refused to record their statements.
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