26 June 2014

Kenya: Lamu Governor Charged With Murder, Terrorism Over Mpeketoni

Photo: Kenya Red Cross
Mpeketoni attacks in Lamu county where at least 60 people are feared to have been killed.

Nairobi — Lamu Governor Issa Timamy was on Thursday arraigned in a Mombasa court and charged with murder, forceful mass transfer of people and terrorism over the Mpeketoni clashes that have left more than 70 dead.

The governor was, however, not required to take a plea when he appeared before High Court judge Martin Muya.

Timamy's lawyer Paul Buti told journalists in Mombasa that he believed his client was innocent.

"I have discussed with him the circumstances pursuant to which he was arrested. He has told me where he was, when he received a call to go to Lamu, traveling by flight from Nairobi to Lamu. From Lamu to the CID headquarters where he met somebody described as the regional commander and from there he was brought to this police station," he said.

Police have been analysing the governor's phone calls and text messages after seizing his two mobile phones soon after the arrest.

Detectives spent the better part of Thursday morning grilling the governor after spending the night at the Port Police Station following his arrest in Lamu on Wednesday.

The killings in Mpeketoni started on June 15 when heavily armed men raided the small town in Lamu county where they shot men and torched a number of businesses. They also raided the local police station in the attack that lasted more than four hours.

President Uhuru Kenyatta immediately blamed local political networks and warned that no one will be spared in the investigations regardless of their status in society.

He also ordered the transfer and prosecution of senior security personnel in the area, accusing them of sleeping on the job. But the stern warning seemed not to have stopped the attacks, as hours later the gunmen raided Maporomoko village near Mpeketoni and days later more deaths were visited on residents of another village in Witu.

Police on Wednesday also arrested 13 alleged separatists suspected of planning more attacks in the country's coastal region.

An interior ministry statement posted on Twitter said those detained were plotting "ethnic cleansing" attacks and were members of the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), which campaigns for independence of the coastal region.

Police in Lamu however, denied knowledge of the arrests.

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