A Kenyan court has sentenced two men to 11 and 26 years in prison for supporting the 2013 attack on Nairobi’s upscale Westgate Mall that left 67 people dead.
Mohamed Ahmed Abdi and Hussein Hassan Mustafah were found guilty earlier this month of charges including conspiracy to commit terrorism by assisting the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group based in neighboring Somalia. Abdi was sentenced to a total of 26 years, and Hassan Mustafah to 11.
Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi had acquitted a third suspect, Liban Omar, who authorities say is a brother to one of the attackers. But his lawyer said Omar was abducted by men believed to be security agents five minutes after his release.
During the sentencing, the magistrate said Abdi and Mustafah’s participation may be considered subtle but the end result was devastating. He said he took into account the fact that they had already spent seven years in custody.
Defence lawyer Mbugua Mureithi pleaded for leniency for Abdi, saying his client has accepted the court’s findings and was remorseful, though he maintains his innocence. He urged a custodial sentence for Abdi, allowing him to report to a police station from time to time, because he was a first offender.
Mustafah also asked for leniency, saying he needed to look after his elderly parents.
The nearly four-day 2013 attack by four gunmen with al-Shabab was the first large-scale assault in Kenya’s capital. Al-Shabab had vowed retribution on Kenya for sending troops to fight the group in Somalia since 2011.
Kenya’s police and army were widely criticized for their response to the attack.