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Suspect in Garissa attack ‘prayed at nearby mosque’

By VINCENT AGOYA, @royagoya

A man linked to the Garissa University College terrorist attack in which 148 people were killed attended prayers at a nearby mosque for three days before the massacre.

Mr Kolombo Adao, a prosecution witness, told a court in Nairobi on Thursday that Mr Rashid Mberesero, a Tanzanian charged with five others with carrying out the attack, prayed “religiously” at the mosque but disappeared on April 2, 2015, leaving a black travel bag at the mosque.

“He was highly intelligent and well versed with the Koran. I first met him on the morning of March 30 when I went to open the mosque. He was the first to come for prayers at 4.35am,” Mr Adao told Chief Magistrate Daniel Ogembo at the Milimani Law Courts.

Mr Adao said the man struck him as an ardent Muslim.

The court heard that on April 1, a day before the attack, Mr Adao found Mr Mberesero at the mosque and gave him the microphone to call worshippers for the morning prayer.

“I had a sore throat and I handed him the microphone since he knew the Koran well,” the witness said.

ARRESTED

“He told me he had come to Garissa to visit an uncle but had been turned away as the uncle was not a Muslim. He said he was a Digo and his mother a Kamba,” Mr Adao said.

He said the suspect used to wear a kanzu but on April 2, the last time he saw him, he was dressed casually and “had on a cap as if to hide his face”.

“He entered the mosque and placed the bag in a corner but did not pray. He looked restless, left and never returned,” the witness said.

“The bag was found three days later when police came to the mosque and arrested me,” Mr Adao said.

He said he told police the bag had been left by a young man called Rashid. “I had not checked what was in it all along,” he said.

He said the suspect was brought back to the mosque later. The hearing continues.