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Garissa terror convict found dead in jail cell

By David Ochami | Nov 30th 2020 | 3 min read
Garissa University attack terrorist suspect Rashid Charles at a Milimani court on June 19, 2019. [George Njunge / Standard]

One of the planners of the April 2, 2015 Garissa University College terrorist attack has been found dead in his cell at Kamiti Maximum Prison.

Prison authorities claim Rashid Charles Mberesero committed suicide with a piece of blanket in the cells.

Yesterday Prisons Department spokesman Kennedy Aluda told The Standard the manner and cause of Mberesero’s death would be determined by a postmortem to be conducted in the presence of the deceased’s relatives.

The body was removed from the scene of death, where it was found at around 3pm on Friday.

“An autopsy is yet to be done. We have communicated with the Tanzanian High Commission to communicate with the deceased’s relatives so that they can be present at the autopsy. That is when we shall ascertain cause of death,” said Mr Aluda last evening after announcing the discovery of the corpse on Friday.

Aluda said the Mberesero had lately exhibited erratic behaviour and had been placed under close watch, but appeared to have eluded his watchers.

“He has been monitored closely, but we do not know how he managed to slip through into the cell where he was found dead,” said Aluda.

Last evening it was unclear whether Mberesero had received any relatives or guests at the prison in recent years or after conviction. It was also not clear whether the corpse will be returned to his country, Tanzania.

But Aluda said negotiations with his family and their concurrence would determine how he is buried.

“It will depend on wishes of the family. If they wish to take away the body they will be allowed to do so,” he said.

Mberesero, 26, was serving a life sentence after his conviction on June 19 last year.

His co-accused Hassan Edin Hassan and Mohamed Ali Abikar were convicted for terrorist murder of 148 people, mainly students, and jailed for 41 years each.

A fourth accused, Sahal Diriye Hussein, was acquitted. All the suspects, save for Mberesero, were Kenyan.

Mberesero received the stiffer sentence when the court found that he was caught hiding in a roof at the campus after the carnage and could not explain his arrival in Kenya or presence at the institution.

The Garissa University College attack was one of Kenya’s most brazen and audacious. It was claimed by the Al Shabaab, which said it was justified to avenge Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia since 2011.

Most of the attackers fought to death after holding Kenya’s police and Special Forces at bay for hours. 

The college was shut for close to a year and surviving students transferred to the mother university - Moi University in Eldoret.

The Kenyan convicts appealed their conviction and sentence. Mberesero did not, according to records. Mberesero’s role in the planning and commission of the attack remains unclear. 

His path towards terrorism and radical extremism has not been fully explained.

Records of his home and upbringing in Tanzania were also not fully explained and no relatives turned up in Nairobi during his trial.

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