Kenyan woman accused of harboring terror suspect dies

10:22, April 13, 2011      

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A Kenyan woman who was accused of harboring terror suspect Fazul Mohammed in Mombasa died in the coastal city on Monday night after allegedly being tortured by the police.

Relatives of the 53-year-old Lutfiya Abubakar Bashrahil are now blaming the authorities for her death. The police arrested Bashrahil together with her husband and son in 2008 for harboring terror suspect and al Qaeda operative, Fazul Mohammed in Malindi.

The woman, according to the postmortem report which was conducted on Tuesday, succumbed to psychiatric trauma and depression. Blame has now been shifted to the government, which is being accused of being behind the death and the relatives have threatened to take legal action.

Hundreds of Muslims on Tuesday held demonstrations in the streets of Mombasa before her remains were buried.

The deceased, her husband Mahfoudh Ashur Hemed and their son, Ibrahim Mahfoudh were facing charges of harboring Fazul, an al Qaeda leader wanted by the United States for a string of deadly attacks, in Malindi, in a case that has span for over three years.

The matter was to commence on Friday, with two Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) officers from United States expected to testify before the case could be finalized.

According to the relatives, they claimed the police had failed to get enough evidence linking the suspects to the crime, and had intended to withdraw the charges and release the family members.

Dr. Mafudh Mohammed, a nephew to the deceased, said the postmortem report indicated that the woman had succumbed to psychological trauma, depression, chest infection and general infection and had been treated for some months before her condition deteriorated. "She has been on psychiatric help but for the last three days, her condition got worse and was rushed to Mewa hospital where she was put at the ICU wing, but did not make it," Mohammed said.

The family said they decided to conduct the postmortem early so that in case any legal hurdles arise, the government would not order for her exhumation. "We don't want the government to say she be exhumed, we already have the report and have all our certificates in place," Mohammed said. The woman had for months been receiving psychiatric treatment from a psychiatrist, Dr Joseph Mahero.

It was claimed Fazul evaded capture ever since his indictment by the United States for the twin attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 240 people on Aug. 7, 1998.

Kenyan authorities also wanted Fazul for a 2002 blast at an Israeli-owned hotel in Kikambala, paradise Resort, that killed 15 people and a simultaneous but failed rocket attack on an Israeli passenger jet.

The trio was arrested by police after a raid late on a private villa in the resort town of Malindi, after which they were charged in Mombasa.

It was also claimed that Mohammed, the Comorian-born leader of al Qaeda's east African cell, had sneaked into Kenya from nearby Somalia for treatment of a kidney ailment.

Source: Xinhua
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