NAIROBI - A Kenyan court has found two men guilty for their roles in the deadly 2013 terrorist attack inside Nairobi’s Westgate Mall. The men were convicted Wednesday of conspiring with and aiding the attackers from the Somali militant group al-Shabab. The court acquitted a third suspect of all charges.
Kenyan authorities arrested four men in 2013 for allegedly playing roles in the Westgate Mall attack. One was released in January 2019.
The other three were in a Nairobi courtroom Wednesday to listen to the verdict of judge Francis Andayi.
Andayi found Mohamed Abdi and Hussein Mustafa guilty, while Liban Abdullahi was acquitted due to lack of evidence.
“In the final analysis, therefore I found that the prosecution has not approved its case against the second accused person on all the charges that were facing him and consequently he is acquitted under section 215 of the criminal procedure court. I am, however, satisfied that the prosecution has proved it's against the first and fourth accused persons on the respective charges facing them hearing beyond a reasonable doubt I find them guilty and convict them accordingly,” said the judge.
Gunmen stormed the busy mall one Saturday in September 2013 and opened fire, killing at least 67 people and injuring more than 150 others.
Kenyan authorities said all four attackers were killed in the police and army siege that followed, although some analysts believe the gunmen escaped.
The trial of the three men began in early 2019. The court listened to 40 witnesses as the men faced 12 accounts of terrorism-related charges.
The judge found that Abdi and Mustafa supported and helped the gunmen who carried out the attack.
The court also found the two owned terrorism materials, knew about the attack and communicated with the men who carried out the attack.
Thirty-one-year-old John Wangombe, who worked at the mall, survived the attack. He welcomed the convictions.
“That’s good news indeed, at last, we were able to get justice for what we went through in 2013. Although justice has been delayed, we have gotten justice at last,” he said.
Another survivor, 38-year-old Ben Mulwa, was in his vehicle when the gunmen attacked the mall. He abandoned his car, seeking safety, but came face-to-face with one of the attackers, who aimed a gun at him and fired. Miraculously, the gunman missed.
The father of four said Wednesday he is happy with the convictions.
“We may never fully recover from either the injuries or the scars or even recover the lives we lost, but I believe it’s a good step in the right direction and a consolation to a majority of those who survived the incident,” he said.
Mulwa said this conviction can help Kenyan youths who engage in terrorism to think about their future.
“It’s a good step in the right direction because it shows commitment mostly from the part of the government to pursue justice, and I hope that especially our young people who get excited into the radicalization by terrorist outfits can see that this a deterrence and, ultimately you may engage in yourself in criminal activities that amount to nothing,” he said.
The judge will sentence the convicts later this month. The two men are facing jail time of up to 20 years.