Garissa attack convicts’ sentences slashed

GARISSA, Kenya (Caasimada Online) – In a controversial decision, High Court Justice Cecilia Githua has reduced the prison sentences of two individuals convicted in the 2015 Garissa University terror attacks in Kenya.

The new ruling lowers the sentences for Hassan Edin Hassan and Mohamed Abdi Abikar from 41 years to 25-and-a-half years, acquitting them of membership in the al-Shabab militant group but upholding their convictions for conspiracy to commit a terrorist act. 

Security analyst Richard Tuya, based in Nairobi, expressed that the ruling hampers the battle against terrorism.

“This decision turns terrorism into an appealing enterprise in this country, as terrorists rationally weigh the costs and benefits of their actions. With punishments now lighter than the costs, it works in their favor,” he stated.

A mockery to victims’ families

The original 2019 sentence handed down by a lower court mandated 25-and-a-half years for conspiracy to commission and commit a terrorist act and 15-and-a-half years for being members of al-Shabab.

The recent ruling overturned the latter sentence and found that the prosecution did not provide sufficient evidence to prove the defendants were members of the militant group.

Tuya argued that the ruling disregards the suffering of the families of the 148 victims who perished in the Garissa University attacks.

“To me, I feel like it is a mockery, but now you can’t blame the courts because also the court relies on evidence that has been brought before it,” he said.

The fateful 2015 attacks

In April 2015, four gunmen stormed Garissa University and opened fire indiscriminately, killing 148 people.

The Somali-based militia group al-Shabab later claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that it was motivated by Kenya’s deployment of troops to Somalia.

In her ruling, Justice Githua maintained that the circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution left no doubt that Hassan and Abikar were aware of the attack plan and were the actual perpetrators.

Consequently, she sentenced the two to 25-and-a-half years in prison for conspiracy to commit a terrorist act.

This decision has raised concerns among security experts and the public, as it may affect Kenya’s ongoing battle against terrorism.