Nairobi: A Kenyan court on Wednesday charged four suspects with the murder of 36 people at a quarry in the northern border town of Mandera last December. The suspects, a Kenyan and three Somalis, however denied the murder charges before Senior Principal Magistrate Enock Cherono in Nairobi.
The court heard that the accused — Abubakar Salim Kitonga, Maslah Daud Hassan, Musa Daud Hassan, Shukri Abdi Salat — jointly with others, who were not before the court, carried out the terror attack, which resulted in the death of 36 people on December 2, 2014.
Kitonga, the Kenyan, who was the mastermind, was also charged with being in possession of a terrorism article contrary to law. The suspect was found in possession of a Nokia mobile phone, a SIM card and a micro SD memory card, which had an article for use in terrorism acts.
The other three accused, who are Somali nationals, faced a separate charge of being in the country illegally. Two of them were also charged with being in possession of materials, including a mobile phone, which they used in instigating the terror attack.
State Prosecutor Daniel Karori said tension was still high in Mandera county, saying some witnesses were unwilling to give evidence against the respondents for fear of possible retaliation by the Al Shabaab terrorist group.
Karori asked the court to deny the suspects bond until the case was heard and determined because of the serious nature of the offence and being a flight risk.
“The offence committed is of extremely serious nature and the accused are likely to be sentenced upon conviction. The accused should remain in custody until the case is heard and determined,” he told the magistrate, who will make a ruling on bail application on Thursday.
The suspects were arrested after a group of 36 quarry miners were ambushed and killed by gunmen in Bulla Arabia, 20 km from Mandera town last December.