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Somali Soldier Sentenced to Death for Killing Cabinet Minister


FILE - Relatives carry the dead body of Somalia's public works minister Abbas Abdullahi Sheikh Siraji who was shot and killed in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, May 4, 2017.

A Somali military court has sentenced a government soldier to death for the killing of Somalia’s minister for public works and reconstruction.

The court chairman read the ruling Monday against Ahmed Abdullahi Abdi, 29.

“After long investigation and presentations of evidences relating to the killing of the minister, the court found the accused of intentionally firing the ammunition that killed the minister, so he must taste the same punishment,” said chairman Hassan Ali Shuute.

The deceased minister, 31-year-old Abbas Abdullahi Sheikh Siraji, was the youngest politician in the Somali Cabinet. After the May 3 shooting, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Moahmed tweeted he was “deeply saddened by the death ... He was young, diligent and patriotic.”

Witnesses told VOA Somali at the time that Siraji was hit by gunshots fired from a vehicle carrying Auditor General Nur Jimale Farah. Abdi was a bodyguard for Farah, who was fired immediately after the shooting.

The defense maintained the shooting, which took place outside the presidential palace in Mogadishu, was an accident caused by heightened terror concerns.

Abdi said he opened fire when Siraji’s vehicle pulled up tightly behind the auditor general’s — a highly suspicious move in a country regularly rocked by al-Shabab militant violence.

Abdi's death sentence comes after only three court appearances.

Rights groups often accuse the Somali government's military courts of denying lawyers and due process to defendants. Shuute says eight defending lawyers were involved in this case and that the defendant can appeal the verdict.

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