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Kenya court opens trial of 4 accused in mall attack

The trial of four individuals accused of aiding the terrorists who perpetrated the September attack [NBC News backgrounder] on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, commenced Wednesday. The Somali Islamist group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility [BBC report] for the attack, in which at least 62 people died and 175 were injured [Kenya Red Cross fact sheet, PDF]. The four charged men, Mohammed Ahmed Abdi, Liban Abdullah, Adnan Ibrahim and Hussein Hassan, have been accused [BBC report] of sheltering the terrorists in their homes and contacting the perpetrators in the days before the attack. In addition to charges of aiding terrorist the men face charges of being in the country illegally and obtaining false identification documents. None of the four are accused of being gunmen in the actual attack; the Kenyan military believe all four attackers were killed in the siege. The four men have pleaded not guilty [BBC report] to the charges.

The Westgate shopping mall attack affected the ongoing International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto [ICC materials; JURIST news archive], who requested and was granted [JURIST reports] a one-week postponement from the ICC so he could return to Kenya to deal with the attack. In September UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] condemned [JURIST report] the attack and urged the perpetrators to be brought to justice quickly. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] also decried the attack [press release], urging the Kenyan authorities to engage in a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation.

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