Accused in Mpeketoni attacks acquitted for lack of evidence

Thursday March 24 2016

Malindi businessman Mahadi Swaleh Mahadi, alias Jesus (right) together with his lawyer Taib Ali Taib leave Mombasa court on March 23, 2016 after Mr.Mahadi and his co accused Mr.Dyana Suleiman were set free over the Mpeketoni killings. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA |

Malindi businessman Mahadi Swaleh Mahadi, alias Jesus (right) together with his lawyer Taib Ali Taib leave Mombasa court on March 23, 2016 after Mr.Mahadi and his co accused Mr.Dyana Suleiman were set free over the Mpeketoni killings. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By PHILIP MUYANGA
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Four men charged with killing 72 people in 2014 have been freed by the Mombasa High Court.

Justice Martin Muya acquitted matatu driver Dyna Salim Suleiman, Mr Mahadi Swaleh Mahadi alias Jesus, Mr Swaleh Shebe Auni and Mr Joseph Chege, saying the prosecution failed to prove the cases against them.

Mr Suleiman and Mr Mahadi were charged separately with the killing of 60 people while Mr Auni and Mr Chege were accused of killing 12.

The judge said there was total breakdown or near-collapse of communication in the security organs when the raids took place.

“Police officers used their mobile phones at their own costs. There was lack of coordination with little or no command structure,” the judge said.

He added that there were few police vehicles in the county, explaining the poor response during and after the attacks.

Justice Muya said no attacker was arrested, noting that the raids began at 8.45pm while police officers arrived at 4am.

“The attacks should be a wake-up call to the government. It must address insecurity. Failure to do so would be a let-down to Kenyans,” Justice Muya added.

The court said Mr Suleiman was linked to the murders as a result of being the driver of the matatu used by an attacker.

NOTHING TO SHOW

“There is nothing to show that he was driving the vehicle on the night of the attacks. The prosecutor failed to call a doctor to tell the court if there was any irregularity in the accused being discharged from hospital,” the judge added.

He said there was enough evidence to show that Mr Suleiman reported the attacks to the police.

The witness who placed Mr Suleiman at the scene of the attack was described by the judge as unreliable. He said the witness said he was a Muslim yet he did not know the pillars of Islam.

The judge said data from Safaricom indicated that Mr Mahadi’s phone was being used in Malindi at the time of the attack.

Mr Mahadi and Mr Suleiman said their prosecution was as a result of political pressure.

The raids took place between June 15 and 17, 2014 at Kaisari Village and Mpeketoni Township.

The court was told that senior GSU and AP commanders refused to release their officers to back up their regular police counterparts in Mpeketoni.

Former Lamu Police boss Leonard Omollo said upon being requested to release personnel, he was informed by the then commandant Joel Kitili not to move the officers at night.