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Trial of Westgate terror suspects hits a snag

A case in which four terror suspects are held over the Westgate shopping mall attack may start afresh next year pending the resolution of a hitch in the trial court.

The proceedings have been delayed since the presiding magistrate, Mr Daniel Ochenja, was suspended a month ago over an unrelated issue awaiting disciplinary action at the Judicial Service Commission.

NEW MAGISTRATE

Twenty seven prosecution witnesses, including those who testified in camera , out of the projected 43 have so far adduced evidence and may have to be recalled once the case file goes before a new magistrate.

The new magistrate also has the option of carrying on with the trial from where it was last adjourned if lawyers defending the suspects do not raise an objection.

In the case Mr Mohammed Ahmed Abdi, Mr Liban Abdullahi Omar, Mr Adan Dheq and Mr Hussein Mustaffah are charged with being privy to the terror attack which resulted in the deaths of 67 people.

AL-SHABAAB TERRORISTS

They are accused of assisting the terrorists who struck at the mall on September 21, 2013 and being members of the outlawed Al-Shabaab terror group.

The Al–Shabaab claimed responsibility after the four-day siege.

The suspects, all in custody, were in October charged afresh with additional counts of conspiracy which they denied.

They denied that they jointly conspired with others not before court to carry out the attack in which 67 people were killed and several others injured.

TRAINING MANUAL

One of the suspects, Mr Abdullahi was further charged with being found in possession of Al-Shabaab training paraphernalia when he was arrested in Kitale four days after the attack.

Nairobi chief magistrate Hannah Ndung’u directed that the case be mentioned next week on December 10 for further directions and fixing of fresh hearing dates.