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Kenya moves to prosecute July 11 World Cup bombing suspects acquitted by Ugandan court

Kenya is interested in getting to the bottom of the matter, believing that there is an active terror cell at large after investigation revealed that the July 11, 2010 twin bomb blasts that tore through crowds of World Cup fans were partly planned in Kenya.

JUSTICE | When Omar Awadh Omar chose to live by his Ugandan nationality to escape deportation to Kenya after being absolved of charges of masterminding the July 11, 2010 World Cup twin bombings in Kampala, he probably knew what awaited them across the border.

Two of his co-accused have been re-arrested after being deported. Authorities in Kenya believe Yahya Suleiman Mbuthia and Mohammed Hamid Suleman, together with Omar, were partly responsible for the July 11 twin bombings in Kampala that killed at least 74 people watching World Cup final.

A Kenyan legal news site, Justice.co.ke, on Tuesday said that a Nairobi court had ordered the detention of Mbuthia and Suleman, who have been identified by Kenya police as “persons of concern,” for 30 days to allow detectives crack what is believed to be an active local terror cell.

Investigation revealed that the July 11, 2010 twin bomb blasts that tore through crowds of World Cup fans were partly planned in Kenya.

The pair was charged with multiple counts of terrorism and murder alongside 11 others. But after the initial acquittal of most of the suspects, the three Kenyans and two Ugandans–Dr Ismail Kalule and Abubakari Batemyetto — were immediately rearrested and charged with fresh counts.

On September 4, Justice Margret Oguli-Oumo, of the High Court’s International Crimes Division, absolved them of terrorism charges when prosecutor Lino Anguzu showed up with a “Nolle Prosequi” saying he was not going to prosecute the quintet.

But Internal Affairs minister Jeje Odongo immediately ordered that the Kenyans be deported because they were “unwanted immigrants.”

Handed over in Kenya

In Kenya, the anti-terrorism police unit received the suspects on September 7 at Malaba border after they were deported per Gen Odongo’s directive.

The Kampala bombing triggered a flurry of investigations that led to uncovering of an active terrorist cell that was operating in Kenya to which the pair were linked having rented a safe house for planning the attacks, police said.

“Investigation and consequent prosecution of the pair for conspiracy hatched in Nairobi was never pursued owing to te the fact that they were arrested and charged in Uganda,” an affidavit filed in the proceedings reads.

ATPU officers told court that having been released from Uganda ”we need time to conduct a debrief with them considering that they have been freely interacting with convicted terror inmates for a period of eight years.”

“We are in receipt of intelligence reports from our Ugandan counterparts that during their detention, the pair had constant communication with known and convicted al-Shabaab adherents, ” the affidavit presented by ATPU’s Ezekiel Luley reads in part.

What is not clear is why the Kenyan authorities did not effectively liaise with their Ugandan counterparts who were prosecuting the suspects. For eight years, the Kenyan authorities had their chance but did not make the most of it yet their contribution could have helped the Ugandan prosecution pin the suspects.

Possible disengagement

Luley said further intelligence report have indicated that the suspects’ associates are planning a terror strike within the country ”as reprisal following their arrest.”

The detective told the court that time is required to study the judgement and proceedings in the Kampala 2010 case to point out and process through Mutual Legal assistance provisions, of evidence that may be needed in furtherance of investigations and prosecuting the conspiracy hatched in Kenya.

“We further need time after the debrief to asses whether, over and above charging the respondents, if there can be any option as regards referring the respondents to the National Counter Terrorism Center for a proper debrief and possible disengagement and de-radicalisation programs,” the affidavit reads.

The suspects will be held for 30 days at an undisclosed location, the court ruled.

Somali Islamist militants claimed responsibility for attack in which 74 people were killed in the twin bombings in Kampala, Uganda.

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