Cyprus court hearing for Brit in false rape case postponed

Police officers escort a 19-year-old British woman, center, from the Famagusta court in town of Paralimni, Cyprus, Monday, July 29, 2019. (AP)
Updated 29 July 2019

Cyprus court hearing for Brit in false rape case postponed

  • Paralimni court judge Tonia Antoniou ordered the one-day postponement because the woman’s lawyer is abroad
  • The woman alleged she was raped at the hotel where she and the dozen Israelis were staying

PARALIMNI: A Cyprus court on Monday postponed a custody hearing for a 19-year-old British woman, who faces a public nuisance charge after she admitted that her accusation that 12 Israeli teens raped her at a popular resort town was untrue.
Paralimni court judge Tonia Antoniou ordered the one-day postponement because the woman’s lawyer is abroad.
A lawyer standing in for the Briton’s attorney said more time is needed to pour through the police’s extensive probe into the case.
The woman will remain in police custody until Tuesday’s court appearance because she poses a flight risk, the state-run Cyprus News Agency reported.
A throng of foreign and local journalists surrounded the woman who covered her face with a sweater from the moment she stepped out of the police vehicle that brought her to the courthouse.
Cyprus police on Sunday freed the remaining seven of 12 Israeli suspects who were initially arrested on July 17 after the British woman made the rape allegation against them.
Five Israelis had been released three days earlier after no evidence was found implicating them in the case.
Police have said the woman voluntarily recanted her rape allegation during questioning. While admitting there had been sexual contact with the suspects, she now said she wasn’t raped.
Lawyers representing the Israelis who ranged in age from 15 to 18 said they plan to sue the young woman on behalf of those she accused.
The woman alleged she was raped at the hotel where she and the dozen Israelis were staying.
The Israelis’ defense lawyers had said the woman was also working at the hotel and that she was in a relationship with one Israeli and had consensual sexual contact with several others over a period of several days.
The Cyprus News Agency reported that the woman allegedly told investigators she filed the rape report because she was “angry and insulted” that some of the Israelis allegedly recorded video of her having sex with a number of them.


Two accomplices in Kenya’s Westgate attack jailed for 33 and 18 years

Updated 30 October 2020

Two accomplices in Kenya’s Westgate attack jailed for 33 and 18 years

  • Mohamed Ahmed Abdi and Hassan Hussein Mustafa, both 31, were found guilty on October 7 of conspiring with and supporting the four assailants
  • The convicted men were in regular contact with the attackers who at midday on September 21, 2013, stormed the upscale Westgate mall in the Kenyan capital

NAIROBI: A Kenyan court Friday handed prison terms of 33 and 18 years respectively to two men accused of conspiring with the Al-Shabab extremists who attacked Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in 2013, killing 67 people.

Mohamed Ahmed Abdi and Hassan Hussein Mustafa, both 31, were found guilty on October 7 of conspiring with and supporting the four assailants from the Somalia-based extremist group who died in what was then Kenya’s worst terrorist attack in 15 years.

The accused asked the judge for leniency, saying they had already served seven years behind bars and had family to care for.

“Despite mitigation by their defense lawyers on their innocence, the offense committed was serious, devastating, destructive, that called for a punishment by the court,” Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi told a Nairobi courtroom.

He sentenced the men to 18 years for conspiracy and 18 for supporting extremists, but ordered they serve both terms together. Abdi was also given an additional 15 years for two counts of possessing extremist propaganda material on his laptop.

He will serve 26 years and Mustafa 11, taking into account their pre-trial detention.

The convicted men were in regular contact with the attackers who at midday on September 21, 2013, stormed the upscale Westgate mall in the Kenyan capital and began throwing grenades and firing indiscriminately on shoppers and business owners.

A four-day siege ensued — much of it broadcast live on television — during which Kenyan security forces tried to flush out the gunmen and take back the high-end retail complex.

Although there was no specific evidence Abdi and Mustafa had provided material help, the court was satisfied their communication with the attackers amounted to supporting the armed rampage, and justified the guilty verdict for conspiracy.

The marathon trial began in January 2014. A third accused was acquitted of all charges.
The Westgate attack was claimed by Al-Shabab in retaliation for Kenya intervening military over the border in Somalia, where the extremist group was waging a bloody insurgency against the fragile central government.

Kenya is a major contributor of troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which in 2011 drove Al-Shabab out of Mogadishu and other urban strongholds after a months-long offensive.

In a car the attackers drove to Westgate, police found evidence of newly-activated SIM cards used by the gunmen. Their communications were traced, including calls to Mohamed Ahmed Abdi and Hassan Hussein Mustafa.

A fourth defendant, Adan Mohammed Abdikadir, was acquitted in early 2019 for lack of evidence.

The Westgate attack was the deadliest incident of violent extremism on Kenyan soil since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi, which killed 213 people.

But since the assault on the shopping complex, Al-Shabab has perpetrated further atrocities in Kenya against civilian targets.

In April 2015, gunmen entered Garissa University and killed 148 people, almost all of them students. Many were shot point blank after being identified as Christians.

In January 2019, the militants struck Nairobi again, hitting the Dusit Hotel and surrounding offices and killing 21 people.

Al-Shabab warned in a January statement that Kenya “will never be safe” as long as its troops were stationed in Somalia, and threatened further attacks on tourists and US interests.

That same month, Al-Shabab attacked a US military base in northeast Kenya in a cross-border raid, killing three Americans and destroying a number of aircraft.