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Westgate suspects’ trial pushed to next year

The hearing of a case against four men facing charges in relation to Westgate mall terror attack failed to start on Thursday after a defence counsel failed to show up.

Acting chief magistrate Daniel Ochenja allowed an application by one of the accused, Mr Mohamed Abdi, who said he cannot proceed with the case in absence of his lawyer.

The application was opposed by lawyers of the other accused persons, who argued that the adjournment sought was not in good faith.

“My submission is that the inability of the first accused to engage a counsel should not be used to hold trial of the other three in abeyance,” said lawyer Mbugua Mureithi for one of the accused.

Prosecutor Mungai Warui said they had two witnesses present in court and were ready to proceed with the case.

Mr Warui added that being the first hearing of the case, the accused was entitled to a lawyer.

The magistrate granted the last adjournment of the case on the part of Mr Abdi and directed the prosecution to supply the defence with all witness statements.

Mr Adan Abdikadir, Mohamed Abdi, Liban Abdullah and Hussein Hassan allegedly on September 21 this year jointly with others not before court carried out a terrorist attack at Westgate Shopping mall.

Other charges facing some of the accused include giving support to terrorist group and habouring of persons committing a terrorist acts.

The prosecution had initially indicated that it intends to call over 40 witnesses to testify against the accused.

Almost three weeks ago, the accused were denied bail by court which said there were compelling reasons advanced by the prosecution.

However the magistrate said the issue of bail can be revived after some time by the trial court.

The case will now be heard on January 15.