News / Africa

Experts Fear No Prosecutions in Kenya Mall Attack

In this photo taken from footage from Citizen TV, via the Kenya Defense Forces and made available Friday, Oct. 4 2013,  a man reported to be Omar Abdul Rahim Nabhan, one of the four armed militants walking in a store at the Westgate Mall.
In this photo taken from footage from Citizen TV, via the Kenya Defense Forces and made available Friday, Oct. 4 2013, a man reported to be Omar Abdul Rahim Nabhan, one of the four armed militants walking in a store at the Westgate Mall.
Kenyan security forces have made dozens of arrests and intensified their search for more suspects who they believe were behind the Westgate mall terror attack on September 21. This week the government offered a bounty of up to $6,000 for information leading to the arrest of two men alleged to own a vehicle used during the attack. Legal experts fear no suspect will be convicted.

In a brief statement to the media Monday, Boniface Mwaniki, head of the police Anti-Terrorism Unit, said his unit will offer a reward to anyone who comes forward and gives information on the owner of a car which was used to transport terrorists, weapons and explosives to the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.  

During the attack at the mall, more than 60 civilians were killed, along with six soldiers and at least five gunmen.

Legal experts in Kenya expect the courts to be busy in the coming days and even months, but doubt that any suspect will be prosecuted and jailed.

Donald Rabala, an advocate at the High Court of Kenya, told VOA it will be hard for police to link suspects to the Westgate attack, since none of those arrested were actually apprehended at the mall.

“If you didn’t find these people at the scene, how then do you link them to this activity that happened at the Westgate?" he asked.  "Then that is where you come up with a trail of evidence in terms of mobile communication, e-mail communication, you can even trail money movement from one place to another.  Our police forces are not able to get this kind of links more often than not, so you end up with a weak case and a magistrate has no choice but to release these people.

Lawyers acknowledge that getting evidence needed to prove terrorism links and prosecuting it is difficult.

Dozens of arrests made in the last few weeks include people from Western countries.

Multiple sources in the security force said the investigators pick names from the immigration department and check the date that a suspect arrived.  In some cases, police look for individuals whose entry visas have expired, but most of these people have crossed to Somalia. If these individuals come back, security forces are left to deal with an immigration case instead of a terror-related case.

However, Rabala said police are partly to blame for not giving enough information to prove the suspect they are sending to court may be a terrorist.

“The first person to blame is the police," he said.  "Take, for example, myself.  If am sitting there and am looking at a case and someone presents me a suspect, you tell me this is a terrorist and you don’t give me evidence linking him to the activity that is complained of.  Obviously the constitution and the laws of the country enjoin me to release the person because there is no evidence that connects him to the event.”

Neither Police Inspector General David Kimaiyo nor other representatives of the police returned calls for comment.

Al Amin Kimathi, the head of the Muslim Human Rights Forum, said investigating terror cases is a difficult task but security forces need to be patient and very careful.

"They are frustrated at times with the law and the legal procedures at times, there is no two ways about this," he admitted. " Even where anti-terrorism has predated, counter-terrorism authorities, anti-terrorism authorities mark their patience to ensure that innocent persons are not brought to the net and are not victimized.”

So far only two convicted terrorists: Bwire Oliacha and Abdulmajid Yasin Mohamed - are serving jail terms in Kenya in connection to terror attacks since Kenyan troops crossed to Somalia to fight al-Shabab.

High Court advocate Donald Rabala said with more cases flopping due to lack of proper investigations and evidence, magistrates - instead of releasing suspects - should press the police to bring more evidence to prosecute the suspects.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Paradei
X
Anush Avetisyan
November 26, 2014 10:57 PM
Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid