29 March 2013

Somalia: Al - Shabab Militant Convicted of Journalist's Murder

press release

A military tribunal in Somalia has convicted an alleged Al-Shabab militant of killing journalist Hassan Yusuf Absuge, according to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ).

Absuge, who worked for Radio Maanta as head of programmes, was gunned down in Mogadishu on 21 September last year. Adan Sheikh Andi Sheikh Hussein was today found guilty of the murder and sentenced to death, NUSOJ says.

"We hope that the investigation and prosecution of this case signal the commitment to eradicate the impunity for crimes against journalists in Somalia," said Beth costa, IFJ General Secretary. "Many families of Somali journalists who died in violence deserve justice. This conviction raises their hopes of achieving that and they should not be let down."

NUSOJ, an IFJ affiliate, quoted the presiding judge as saying that there was compelling evidence against Hussein, including the murder weapon which was seized on him by security forces. The tribunal was also shown message exchanges on his mobile phone discussing the journalist's murder with his superiors.

Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ's General Secretary, said that this is the first case of a journalist's murder to be resolved by Somali authorities. He urged them to pursue other killers who continue to enjoy impunity.

"We hope that justice will be similarly done for colleagues who were murdered by criminals who are not afraid of rule of law," he added. "This verdict sends a powerful message to them that their crimes will not remain unpunished."

Hussein was put on trial before a military tribunal as an Al-Shabab fighter. The Islamist group claimed responsibility for Absuge's murder, accusing him of 'spying against Allah's forces'.

Last year, Somalia was ranked as one the deadliest countries for journalists in the IFJ annual report on journalists and media staff killed in 2012, with 18 killings.

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