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Westgate terror attack: Two suspects found guilty, one acquitted

By Betty Njeru | October 7th 2020 at 10:11:45 GMT +0300

Two suspects at the centre of the Westgate Mall terror attack in September 2013 have been found guilty.

The first and second suspects Mohammed Abdi and Hassan Mustafa were found guilty of the crimes, while a third suspect, Liban Omar has been acquitted of charges.

The three suspects appeared before Chief magistrate Francis Wandayi at the Milimani Law Court on Wednesday to face at least 12 counts among the commission of a terrorism act, being in possession of stolen items and being in the country illegally.

Delivering the judgement, Andayi said that he found no defect in the charges against them as brought forth by the prosecution. "The irregularities in the process of issuing ID cards cannot be blamed on the third person. The accused was not at the Westgate building during the time of the attack," he ruled.

The first and fourth accused were charged with a conspiracy to commit a terrorist act and knowingly giving evidence to the attackers. 

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Earlier, we had reported that three persons accused of commissioning a terrorist attack at Westgate Mall in Westlands, Nairobi, in September 2013, will know their fate today.

The sentencing comes seven years after the attack that killed 67 people and left scores injured marking the end of the long wait for justice.

The three; Mohammed Ahmed Abdi, Hussein Hassan Mustafa and Liban Omar appeared at the Milimani Law Courts before Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi.

The prosecution preferred at least eight charges against them, both as a group and individually.

Chief magistrate Andayi read the charges as follows: "Count 1 against all accused persons- That on September 21, 2013, you carried out a terrorist attack at Westgate Mall killing 67 people."

They were also charged with a conspiracy to commit a terrorist act on the second count.

The magistrate continued, that on count three, "Mohammed Abdi is charged with giving support to a terrorist organisation and knowingly supporting terrorist acts."

Abdi was also charged with being a member of a terrorist group and being found in possession of an article connected to the terrorism offence.

The accused were first charged individually on seven counts in November 2013. They each denied the charges and the case went to trial.

On January 15, 2019, the court freed the fourth suspect-Adan Dheg, on basis of insufficient evidence.

Nairobi Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi freed Dheg but put Ahmed Abdi, Liban Omar and Hussein Mustafa on their defence.

“I am satisfied that the prosecution has established there is a case to answer against the three suspects, but I will acquit Adan who has no case to answer,” he ruled.

 145 witnesses were produced in the course of the trial and the judgement has been postponed at least three times.

Westgate has since opened its doors to the public, after almost two years of inactivity since the attack.

In 2015, a police report revealed how the Al Shabaab militia group planned and executed the attack.

A profile released by police and National Intelligence Service showed Gaarar, a Somali national was the one who bought a Mitsubishi saloon car registration number KAS 575X that was seized in front of the mall after the attack.

The car was laden with explosives and weapons at the time of its recovery, almost a week after the attack.

He and his accomplices paid Sh340,000 for the car on September 6, 2013, from a mechanic in Eastlands, Nairobi.

Then Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet said Garaar alongside two other militants were killed on March 12 in a US drone attack.


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