The Star (Nairobi)

7 May 2013

Kenya: High Court Sentences Iranian Terrorists to Life

The two Iranian terrorists found guilty of importing explosives into Kenya will spend the rest of their lives in jail. Ahmed Mohammed and Sayed Mansour were in June 2012 found with 15 kilos of explosives which they intended to use in bombings in Mombasa and Nairobi.

Sentencing them to life in prison, Nairobi chief magistrate Kiarie Waweru Kiarie said he had considered the two men's pleas for leniency but "I shudder to imagine the amount of damage that could have been seen, should they have succeeded with their plan," he said.

Kiarie said the accused deserved the life sentences. "If they had not been apprehended, a similar incident like the 1998 bombing of the American Embassy in Kenya could have occurred. Even after I heard their mitigation and cries, the cry of previous victims of terrorism is louder," he said.

The 15 kilogrammes of RDX explosives could have easily brought down Times Tower building or any other tall building in the city. The two men did not seem concerned even as the magistrate read his verdict. They smiled for the cameras as the Iranian interpreter translated the ruling.

Mohammed, 52 and and 50-year old Mansour, who were represented by Kiraithe Wandungi had asked for a non-custodial sentence claiming they were in poor health and this was their first offence.

They had initially arrived in Kenya on tourist visas and later claimed to be investors interested in setting up a travel agency in the country.

On the charge of planning terror attack, the magistrate gave them 15 years and 10 years for being in the country illegally. However, they will serve life imprisonment.

Soon after the ruling, their wives-- Marzieh Kibiree and Fatemey Rahim--pleaded with the Iranian government for help. Speaking with emotion, the two women expressed their disappointment with the Kenyan judiciary and accused the government of 'mishandling' their husband's case.

The two women claimed that the conviction and sentencing was a result of "extra judicial influence and unjust hearing". The arrest of the two men and the recovery of the explosives came at a time when there were explosions going off in Mombasa, Nairobi and the towns bordering Somalia, maiming and even killing dozens of people.

The explosives were, according to intelligence reports, part of a consignment of 100 kilos of explosive material which had been shipped into the country from Iran through Mombasa.

The reports indicated that 85 kilos of explosive materials which could be used for making bombs had yet to be recovered. Mohammed and Mansour were arrested as they checked out of the Laico Grand Regency hotel on their way to the airport.

The explosives were found hidden in one of the greens at the Mombasa Golf Clun along Mama Ngina Drive in Mombasa. They have 14 days to appeal against their sentence.

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