Garissa University attackers get heavy jail terms

Thursday July 4 2019

Garissa attack convicts

The three convicts found to have abetted the Al-Shabaab attack that left 148 people in Garissa University dead when they appeared in a Nairobi court on July 3, 2019 for sentencing. PHOTO | RICHARD MUNGUTI | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

MAUREEN KAKAH
By MAUREEN KAKAH
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A Nairobi court Wednesday sentenced three men to terms ranging from 41 years to life in prison for abetting the massacre of 148 people by Al-Shabaab militants at Garissa University in 2015.

Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi handed a lifetime sentence to a Tanzanian national and 41 years in jail for his two Kenyan co-accused convicted of carrying out the terrorist attack.

In his ruling, Mr Andayi said that even though the intension of perpetrators of terrorism acts is to divide souls, those who do such things must be punished.

'HELPLESS VICTIMS'

He pointed out that lives were lost and members of the public left in fear and rage, and that more other attacks have happened on the Kenyan soil since the Garissa University one.

He also pointed that this could be the first case in Kenya in which many lives were lost, has gone to trial and has finally reached its completion while considering all procedural rules.

Considering that most of the 148 lives lost during the ill-fated April 2, 2015 attack were students, the magistrate stressed that they were innocent souls who were mercilessly and gruesomely killed in groups.

“I do not think there is any person in the world who does not understand the devastating effects of terrorism acts… lives lost were innocent, vulnerable, helpless and hopeless, they were gathered together and herded to their slaughterhouse,” said Magistrate Andayi.

On June 19, the court found Mohamed Ali Abdikar (38), Hassan Aden Hassan (28) and Rashid Charles Mberesero (25) guilty of conspiring to commit a terrorism act, committing a terrorism attack and being members of a terrorist group.

On Wednesday, he ruled that Mr Mberesero, a Tanzanian, who was found in the institution and could not identify himself hence got arrested, is to serve a life sentence for conspiring to commit a terrorism act.

The sentence for the other two offences was put in abeyance. A probation report handed to the court before sentencing indicated that Mr Mberesero intends to join the al- Shabaab once he is released.

As for Mr Abdikadir and Mr Hassan, they are to concurrently serve 15 years each in jail for the offence of conspiracy to commit a terrorism act and 25 years for that of committing a terrorism act.

After completing these two sentences, they are to serve another 20 years in prison for the third offense of being a member of a terrorist group. In total, the duo will spend 41 years in jail because they have already spent four and a half years in remand during trial.

The prosecution had asked for a 60-year jail term to serve as an example and deliver justice to the victims.

The defence, through lawyer Mbugua Mureithi, said Mr Abdikadir and Mr Hassan were remorseful, young and were not arrested at the scene hence should be granted mercy and compassion.