NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 21 – Two Kenyan doctors have been charged before Nairobi Chief Magistrate Gilbert Mutembei with being members of the outlawed terrorists group Al Shabaab.
Ali Omar Salim and Ali Hassan Hilow however denied engaging in organised criminal activity and were remanded at the Kilimani Police Station until October 25 when they will appear again before the court.
They are accused of engaging in organised criminal activity on or about October 20 at Pumwani in Nairobi. The charge says: “You were found engaging in organised criminal activity being members of Al Shabaab, an outlawed organised criminal gang group as per Kenya Gazette Notice 12585 of 2010.”
Their lawyer Chacha Mwita told the court that his clients who are Kenya medical doctors were illegally removed from their place of work without being notified of the reason for their arrest and more than 50 patients who were under their care have been left unattended.
“My clients are proprietors of Afwan Medical Centre, a private clinic which has a bed capacity of more than 50 people,” Mwita said.
The Anti Terrorism Police Unit has requested the court to give them three working days for them to finalise investigations against the two who were arrested on Thursday at their private clinic in Pumwani.
The anti terror police want to take the suspects to Mandera border town for verification of some documentation found on them.
But their lawyer protested the police request claiming that his clients’ rights were infringed when police denied him access to them.
But the court ordered that they be remanded in police custody as anti terror unit investigates their activities as it relates to the Al Shabaab militia.
Police sources indicate that the two doctors have been aiding Al Shabaab by providing them with medical and other assistance.
The authorities have launched a massive manhunt for the Al Shabaab militia and their sympathisers in the country even as the military pursues the terror group into their Somalia hideout.
Al Shabaab fighters in southern Somalia are also facing assault from Kenyan troops and tanks backed by air strikes since Nairobi declared war on the insurgents and confirmed it had moved its forces into Somalia on Sunday.
Kenya’s military said on Thursday it had seized the coastal area of Ras Kamboni without a fight, a former Shabaab stronghold just across the Somalia border.
Inland, military spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir said Kenyan troops were bogged down by “heavy rains” some 100 kilometres (60 miles) inside Somalia, as they prepared to push forward to seize the town of Afmadow, where Somali government forces were fighting.
Nairobi’s unprecedented military incursion into Somalia, which it said had already killed dozens of Al Shabaab fighters, has triggered warnings of bloody retaliation by the Shabaab.
Al Shabaab deny involvement in a spate of attacks and abductions from Kenya – including that of a disabled French woman who died in captivity – that Nairobi says prompted its offensive.
In Somalia, there has been a series of suicide bombings in the capital since the Shabaab rebels said they were abandoning face-to-face battles and switching to guerrilla tactics in the city instead.