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Somali Journalist Gets Death Sentence for Fellow Reporter Killings

Hassan Hanafi Haji sits inside Mogadishu's military court during a hearing for his alleged role in the killings of Somali journalists, in Mogadishu, Somalia, March, 3, 2016.

A military court in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, has sentenced to death a former journalist who helped al-Shabab kill five fellow reporters in Mogadishu.

According to the court verdict, Hassan Hanafi assisted the Islamist militant group by identifying possible targets among journalists between 2007 and 2011.

Mohamed Shute, the chairman of Somali military tribunal, said the evidence against Hanafi proved his involvement in the killings.

“We first confirmed that he was member of al-Shabab militants and then he was found guilty of assisting al-Shabab to target and kill journalists,” Shute said.

In an interview last month with Somali government radio, Hanafi admitted to playing a role in some of the killings, saying that besides naming targets, he told al-Shabab where the journalists could be found.

Hanafi once worked with IQK, a local radio station that was seized by al-Shabab eight years ago. He later worked for Radio Andalus, al-Shabab's mouthpiece in Somalia, before joining the militant group's armed wing.

In August 2014, Kenyan security forces working with Somali intelligence arrested him in Nairobi and handed him over to the Somali government.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, more than 25 journalists have been murdered in Somalia since 2007.