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Court frees four linked to Java terror blast

From right, terror suspects Hassan Abdi Mohamud, Mohammed Osman Ali alias Modika, Ilyas Yusuf Warsame and Garad Hassan Fer Ali in a Nairobi court on January 16, 2014 during the mention of their case. File Photo | PAUL WAWERU | NMG
From right, terror suspects Hassan Abdi Mohamud, Mohammed Osman Ali alias Modika, Ilyas Yusuf Warsame and Garad Hassan Ali in a Nairobi court on January 16, 2014 during the mention of their case. File Photo | PAUL WAWERU | NMG 

Four terror suspects who had been detained over the blast that frightened travellers at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) four years ago are now free men.

Pronouncing their freedom Monday, chief magistrate Roselyn Onganyo said the prosecution purely relied on circumstantial evidence and failed to link Messrs Hassan Abdi Mohammed, Mohammed Osman Ali, Yusuf Warsame and Gerad Hassan Ali to the blast that rocked the Java Coffee House outlet at JKIA.

She immediately ordered their release as State prosecutor Duncan Ondimu applied for a stay of the judgement.

However, defence lawyers Mbugua Mureithi and Ishmael Nyaribo vehemently opposed the stay saying “it amounts to detention of the already freed suspects.”

Mr Ondimu told the magistrate that she did not analyse the CCTV footage, examine the photographs and did not consider other evidence which had directly linked the accused to the incident.

But the defence lawyers asked the court to disregard the plea by the prosecutor saying “it has already determined the case.”

In her brief ruling Ms Onganyo said, “There is no law which the court to invoke to stay an acquittal.”

Rendering her decision, Ms Onganyo said the prosecution did not call eye witnesses who would place the accused at the scene of the blast.

'No explosives'

She also said the prosecution failed to prove that the four had in their possession TNT explosives which had been dumped in a dustbin at the Java restaurant.

“Although a security officer shot at the vehicle which was suspected to have ferried the explosives to the scene immediately after the blast while leaving the airport, police did not identify a man who had died inside the vehicle,” Ms Onganyo stated.

She said the man - who was wearing a white shirt and a black pair of trousers - is suspected to be one who dropped the explosive at the scene.

“A waiter at Java said on the night of the blast he had served a man wearing a white shirt and a black pair of trousers. Police did not establish his identity after finding him dead at the rear seat of the salon car,” Ms Onganyo said.

She said the officer commanding Shauri Moyo Police Station was the first to arrive at the scene where the vehicle had been abandoned.

The magistrate said the vehicle recovered by police belonged to Hassan Abdi, who admitted he used it to conduct taxi business and that on the material day on January 16, 2014 - he had hired it out to Mr Osman.

The magistrate said there was no nexus established by police that two of the four suspects were residing in a house rented from Mr Hassan Ali at Eastleigh Estate from where they were assembling the explosives used in various blasts.

She acquitted all the suspects under Section 215 of the criminal procedure code for failure by the State to prove the case against the four.

The magistrate directed that all the explosives recovered by police be surrendered to the government.

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