Trial of siege suspects now resumes after lull

Sunday September 20 2015

People queue to get into Westgate Mall in

People queue to get into Westgate Mall in Nairobi after it was reopened on July 18, 2015. Terrorists attacked the mall and killed 67 people in 2013, forcing its closure. JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

VINCENT AGOYA
By VINCENT AGOYA
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The trial of four people held in connection with the terrorist attack on Westgate, in which 67 people were killed, has resumed before a third magistrate.

Proceedings were earlier marred by the interdiction of the then presiding magistrate, Mr Daniel Ochenja, and later the transfer of Ms Hannah Ndung’u shortly before she took over the hearings.

Ms Ndung’u was set to take over the case on March 4 after the file was transferred from Mr  Ochenja’s court but it remained in abeyance before the posting of the new Nairobi chief magistrate Daniel Ogembo.

On Friday, Mr Ogembo took the evidence of scene of crime personnel who photographed the gory aftermath of the terrorist attack. More witnesses are listed to testify later in October.

In the case, Mohamed Ahmed Abdi, Liban Abdullah Omar, Adan Mohamed Dheq and Hussein Hassan Mustafah have been charged with assisting the terrorists who attacked the mall in carrying out the raid on September 21, 2013.

PHONE DATA

They have been in custody since October 2013 after they were arrested and charged with various counts of terrorism.

The prosecution has pegged its case on the strength of mobile phone data that showed the four were in contact with callers believed to have been at the mall shortly before and during the attack.

“The four  are being prosecuted ... after their phone contacts  were linked to exhibits recovered at the crime scene,” said a police officer. Police officers who trailed  the four  have  recounted in court how a manhunt ensued following  the attack and how the suspects’  movements were monitored through a mobile phone tracking system and a forensic analysis of the seized exhibits.

The prosecution has since preferred additional charges of joint conspiracy to carry out a terrorism act.

One of the suspects, Mr Liban Omar, faced two additional charges of being a member of Al-Shabaab and being found in possession of Al-Shabaab training videos.