24 July 2012

Kenya: Case Put Off After Terror Suspects Allege Kidnap Bid

Nairobi — The case against two Kenyan terror suspects was postponed on Tuesday after they told the court that they were traumatised following an attempt to kidnap them at dawn.

Through their lawyer Mbugua Mureithi, they claimed that they were accosted by about 10 armed men who tried to force them into a vehicle but they raised alarm before members of the public rushed to their rescue.

Mureithi asked the court to suspend the case since the suspects were mentally disturbed by the incident. The suspects, Sheikh Aboud Rogo and his co-accused Abubakar Sharif are out on bond and had travelled from Mombasa to Nairobi for the case.

"I pray that these proceedings be put off since at this moment, my clients are in no mental state to proceed. As you know your honour, these two are practicing Muslims and they also have not broken their fast as a result of the early morning incident. It is my opinion that the case should be postponed in their due consideration," he said.

He further called for a transfer of the case from Nairobi to the Chief Magistrate's Court in Mombasa but his request was rejected by presiding magistrate Paul Biwott who pointed out that the assault incident does not warrant the transfer of the matter.

The case will now be in court on Wednesday morning to continue with the hearing after Biwott directed the police to investigate the alleged abduction. After the case, Rogo and Sharif told reporters that they feared that their lives were in danger following the dawn attack.

"We alighted from the Coast bus and were going to the mosque to pray. On the way we met with a group of 10 people who attacked us while armed with pistols and handcuffs. We asked them to identify themselves but they refused and that is when we realized that they were not policemen," he stated.

"We told them that if they cannot identify themselves then we cannot go with them. That is when they started to assail us physically but we raised the alarm and as a result, members of the public came to our aid and assisted us," he stated.

He said that they have reported the incident and hope that the police will investigate.

"We went to the police station in Kamukunji and we are hoping that the police will investigate the issue. Even then, we are living in fear because we do not know what is going to happen tomorrow because anything can happen to us. We fear because we have some of our colleagues who have also been charged with the same crimes and they have also disappeared never to be seen again," he indicated.

The two were slapped with sanctions by the US government for alleged involvement in Al Shabaab activities as well as facilitators and recruiters for the militia group.

Their lawyer maintained the innocence of his clients saying the charges against them were trumped up.

"Their fears are also heightened by the allegations that were made by the US government against them and their 'assets' in the United States frozen. These are assets that are non-existent and the interesting thing is that the allegations stem from intelligence got in Kenya," he said.

The US Treasury Department said the sanctions - freezing any US-located assets and forbidding any US business or individual from having dealings with those sanctioned - were aimed at helping halt the conflict in Somalia and efforts to dismantle Al Shabaab.

Another Kenyan Omar Awadh was also named by the US as an important facilitators and recruiters for the Shabaab.

Omar is jailed in Uganda awaiting trial for his alleged role in the attack on World Cup fans watching a match in Kampala on July 11, 2010. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, which left 74 people dead.

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