20 May 2012

Somalia: Amb Mahiga Calls for 'Transparent' Inquiry to Hargeisa Land Dispute

Hargeisa, Somalia — UN Special Representative to Somalia Augustine Mahiga has asked for a "transparent" investigation to a land dispute in Somaliland's capital Hargeisa, Radio Garowe reports.

Ambassador Mahiga released a statement on Saturday that expressed concern into the hasty trial of 17 men who are accused of attacking Somaliland forces in Hargeisa after a land dispute turned deadly.

At least 5 people were killed, 3 of them being Somaliland forces and the other two civilians, scores more were injured in the gun-battle.

Ambassador Mahiga said he was concerned that the trial of the 17 civilians was "conducted by a military, in contradiction of both applicable local statutes and customary norms of standards of international law."

Earlier this week the 17 men were sentenced to death by firing squad and another 5 were given life sentences.

Leading up to the attack on Tuesday local sources in Hargeisa say the alleged owners of the disputed land, took the case to court but their appeal was turned down by the Somaliland courts.

According to media in Hargeisa the dispute turned violent when Somaliland forces tried to forcefully disperse a crowd protesting their eviction.

According to sources, after the 17 men all under 25 years of age were sentenced by military tribunal there was a protest demanding the group of men be released, however special Somaliland forces broke up the protest shortly after it began.

Ambassador Mahiga requested an immediate transfer of the case to a criminal court and hopes that the Somaliland authorities can guarantee a fair trial.

Somaliland a breakaway region in north western Somalia has enjoyed relative stability and last Tuesday's gun-battle in Hargeisa was the bloodiest since the multiple bombings that killed more than 20 in 2008.


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