, MOMBASA, Kenya, Feb 5 – A father and his son have been jailed for life after they were convicted for harbouring Fazul Mohammed, the terror mastermind of the 1998 US Embassy bombing in Nairobi and the Kikambala Paradise Hotel attack of 2002.
Mahfudh Ashur Hemed and his son Ibrahim Mahfudh Ashur were found guilty of four counts – including aiding and harbouring a terrorist at their home in Malindi, being accessories to murder following the death of the 219 people in the 1998 Nairobi bombing and 15 others during the Kikambala attack of 2002.
They were also found guilty of stealing a Kenyan passport belonging to Ali Mohammed Abubakar.
Mombasa Chief Magistrate Evans Makori said due to the gravity of the offence and the behaviour of the offenders, the two will remain in jail for the rest of their lives.
“Count 1, which is being accessories to murder, the accused persons should be sentenced for life. Count 2, which is harbouring a terrorist, they should also be jailed for life,” ruled Makori.
In count 3, in which they were found guilty of stealing a passport, they were fined Sh10,000 or six months in prison.
The matter, which has been in court since 2008, was being handled by the then Mombasa Chief Magistrate Maxwell Gicheru, who was transferred to Embu.
The case was concluded in 2015 but the judgement had not been delivered.
On Tuesday, Makori delivered the judgment on behalf Gicheru.
He said the case against the duo was proven beyond doubt that they two knowingly aided a terrorist.
He said it was evident Mohammed stayed in Hemed’s house in Malindi because one of the items that was recovered during a police raid belonged to him.
Among the items recovered was an electric shaver, which was established belonged to Mohammed after a DNA test.
The samples on the shaver matched those retrieved from Mohammed’s body after he was killed in Somalia.
The samples also matched with those collected from Mohammed’s children in Ethiopia.
The prosecution asked the court to prescribe maximum sentences against the two individuals.
“We ask the court for maximum sentencing of the two because they hosted a person who was responsible of the death of 219 people during the 1998 Nairobi bombing,” said prosecutor Eugene Wangila.
He asked the magistrate to “remember the victims and the deceased who lost their lives during the terror attacks in Nairobi and Kikambala in his decision to sentence the two.”
However, the lawyers representing the accused argued that the two were first time offenders.
Lawyer Richard Magolo, who was representing Hemed said his client was remorseful for what happened.
“The first accused person is a 59-year-old man who has been regretting what happened. He has been very remorseful and apart from that he has been presenting himself to this court for 11 years of this trial,” said Magolo.
Magolo said Hemed’s wife, who was also part of the trial, died during the process.
The 59-year-old man is now a widower left to take care of two young daughters, said his lawyer.
“The sentencing should not be a revenge, but should be a process of rehabilitation. The accused person has already suffered enough in the 11 years of trial. He should be granted non-custodial judgment to allow him look after the two young girls,” said Magolo.
Khamis Mwadzogo, the lawyer appearing for Ibrahim, said the second accused person is a young man with a young family.
He said Ibrahim, just like his father, has been attending all the court processes since 2008.
They have been reporting to the court every month for 11 years, he said.
“I would want to associate myself to the submissions of my learned senior Magolo that the sentencing should not be a revenge. It should be a rehabilitation. We are asking this court to consider either a fine or custodial sentencing,” he said.