NAIROBI, Kenya, July 8 – A prominent Malindi businessman was on Wednesday charged with 60 counts of murder in connection with the Mpeketoni killings in Lamu.
Mahadi Swaleh Mahadi alias Jesus denied the charges before Mombasa High Court Judge Martin Muya.
Mahadi was also charged alongside the driver of a van that was allegedly used to ferry Mpeketoni attackers, Dyan Salim Suleiman, who had earlier been charged with twelve counts of murder, still over the killings.
They both denied the charges.
According to police, Mahadi who runs businesses in Malindi has been funding and harbouring the attackers.
The government was quick to deny claims that the attacks were carried out by Al Shabaab terror group insisting it was politically motivated.
Other than the two, the area Governor Issa Timamy is also facing charges of murder, forceful eviction of populations and terrorism over the Mpeketoni attacks.
Despite government assurances that security has been beefed up in the area, attacks have continued to prevail.
Meanwhile, at least 69 suspects were arrested in the ongoing security operation following the deadly attacks in Lamu and Tana River counties.
According to the Deputy Inspector General of Police Samuel Arachi who is leading the multi-agency operation, the suspects were found with maps of Lamu and Tana Delta as well as sketches of Boni and Mokowe forests.
Among other items recovered by the joint operation of police and Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) include scarves and ropes that police say the suspects may have used to tie their victims.
Arachi said they are also following other leads and expressed confidence that there will be a breakthrough.
Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers and all security personnel in the area, including the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and Kenya Forest Service (KFS), were deployed around the forests on Monday to beef up security as reports emerged that the militia were using the conservation areas as their launching base.
The operation comes amidst reports of an exodus by residents who have fled their homes in Hindi in Lamu County and Gamba in Tana River County following the killing of 21 people on Saturday night.