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3 Suspects Cleared in 2002 Kenya Bombing

June 10, 2005|From Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya — A judge dropped murder charges Thursday against four men accused in an Al Qaeda car bombing that killed 15 people at a resort hotel, saying prosecutors had failed to link them to the terrorist network or the attack.

Police rearrested one of the men hours later.

Prosecutors produced "no evidence, direct or circumstantial," to tie the men to Al Qaeda or the 2002 bombing of the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel north of Mombasa, Judge John Osiemo ruled.

The rearrested suspect, Omar Said Omar, was being held at paramilitary police headquarters and was to be charged today with permitting the bomb used in the attack to be built at his house, said his attorney, Winston Ngaira.

"This is an abuse of power," Ngaira said. "Why wasn't this charge brought while he was in jail since 2003?"

The judge said the only evidence connecting the suspects to the bombing "was cellphone communication between the mobile numbers of the accused and one Abdul Karim, who the prosecution alleges was the main player."

After the ruling, Omar, Ali Saleh Nabhan, Aboud Rogo Mohammed and Mohammed Kubwa were freed. All four men had maintained their innocence.

Prosecutor Edwin Okello expressed disappointment with the ruling. "The judge did not appreciate the issues we made connecting the accused to known terrorists," he said.

Three Israelis and 12 Kenyans died Nov. 28, 2002, when suicide bombers broke through barriers outside the hotel with a vehicle packed with explosives.

A verdict is expected this month in a separate conspiracy case against three other suspects.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said Kenya's ambassador to Israel would be summoned to receive a message demanding that Kenya do more to bring the guilty to justice.

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