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Suspects in Kenya Hotel Attack Plead Not Guilty

Five men charged with murder in connection with an attack last November on a hotel on Kenya's coast have pleaded not guilty Thursday. The five will apear before a High Court judge September 18.

The five suspects were charged with 15 counts of murder for their alleged role in the November 28 suicide bombing of a hotel near the coastal city of Mombasa.

The five men will remain in prison until September 18, when they are set to appear in court again.

Lawyer for the defendants, Maobe Mao, says his clients are innocent, and accuses the Kenyan government of framing them to show the United States and its allies that Kenya is playing its part in fighting terrorism.

"They're using them [the defendants] as bait to obtain funding," he said. "There are many people willing to give them [the government] money in the name of fighting terror. The truth is, each and every one of these persons was home on the day that this offense was alleged to have taken place."

But prosecution lawyer John Gacivih flatly rejects the defense's claims. He says the prosecution has over 130 witnesses to testify against the defendants, but would not discuss details.

"Every murder case is serious by itself," said Mr. Gacivih. "The evidence we can't disclose at this stage. That is for purpose of court."

Security around the courthouse was tight, and riot police lined the corridors to prevent disruption.

The November attack on the Israeli-owned hotel killed three Israelis, 11 Kenyans and the suicide bombers.