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Mombasa Court releases key suspect in Garissa University massacre

By Willis Oketch | July 16th 2015

NAIROBI: The High Court in Mombasa has released a terror suspect, whom police say was a key planner of the April 2 terrorist attack at Garissa University College, sparking anger within the police force.

Sheikh Mohamed Khalid Ali, a native of Lamu County and resident of Mombasa's Old Town, was arrested in May and police claimed they found a hand grenade and plastic explosives in his house in Bondeni.

The officers also claimed the former Imam of Mlango wa Papa Mosque has links with Jaysh Ayman, a cell of Kenyan and foreign fighters within Al Shabaab, which has been accused of the aborted June 14 raid on a Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) camp in Baure in Lamu and subsequent attacks on soft targets.

Before Ali was arrested, elders of the mosque had expelled him in disapproval of his apparent inflammatory sermons.

Tuesday, Justice Martin Muya set him free on bond with stringent conditions. Besides paying a Sh10 million bond with two sureties of the same amount, he must report to Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters in Mombasa on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and he is also banned from leaving Mombasa without the permission of the court and police.

Muya said the prosecution had failed to convince the court that the suspect would abscond if released on bail. "The prosecution did not give compelling reasons that the suspect who is in the prison would abscond when released on bond," said Muya.

But the judge's order did not go down well with the Anti-Terrorist police, who complained that their efforts to fight terrorism were being hampered by the Judiciary, which does not appreciate the suffering they undergo while looking for most wanted terrorists.

A senior anti-terror police who did no want to be named cited a case where a suspect was released on Sh20 million but still disappeared. "We are sometimes at a loss because we do all we can to apprehend some of these dangerous suspects who later find their way back in the society," he said.

The prosecution had opposed his release on bond, arguing he was facing a serious offence, which was of public interest and that he could abscond if freed on bond. The police also opposed the bail.

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