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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 June, 2003, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Four charged with Kenya hotel blast
(From l to r) Mohamed Kubwa Seif, Mohamed Kubwa and Said Saggar Ahmed, three suspected men of attacking an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa
The US has criticised Kenya for not doing enough in the war against terror
Four Kenyans have been charged with murder over the bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel near Mombasa last November which killed at least 16 people.

They were brought before Chief Magistrate Aggrey Mchelule on Monday in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, but were not asked to enter a plea.

Defence lawyer Maobe Mao told BBC News Online that since it is a murder case it will be tried in the High Court.

The four were remanded in custody and will appear before court again on 8 August.

They are just being brought forward because there is pressure that is bearing on our government to do something
Defence lawyer Maobe Mao
The US believes Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network was behind the blast which killed 10 Kenyans and three Israelis, as well as three suicide bombers.

It happened at almost exactly the same time as missiles were launched at an Israeli commercial flight taking off from the nearby port city of Mombasa, narrowly missing their target.

Terror warnings

Two of the suspects, Mohammed Kubwa, 65 and his son, Mohamed Kubwa Seif, in his late 30s or early 40s, a civic leader in Lamu - were detained in March on suspicion of harbouring people believed to have carried out the car-bomb attack on the beachfront Paradise Hotel.

TERROR SUSPECTS
Mohammed Kubwa, 65
Mohamed Kubwa Seif
Aboud Rogo Mohammed,30
Said Saggar Ahmed, 60

The others are Aboud Rogo Mohammed, a 30-year-old preacher and Said Saggar Ahmed, a 60-year-old man, "who has been running a school for Muslim girls in Mombasa throughout his life".

The lawyer accuses the government of rushing the case to court under pressure from the United States.

"They are just being brought forward because there is pressure that is bearing on our government to do something. And the only people they can see now in their binoculars are these four".

Evidence

But Nairobi's chief magistrate said he would not respond to outside pressure.

"Rest assured nobody is going to push me to decide this case any other way than the evidence provides", Mr Mchelule told the court.

Surveying the wreckage of the Paradise Hotel

Last week, US ambassador to Kenya Johnnie Carson publicly criticised Kenya's anti-terrorism efforts, saying there had not been a single arrest or conviction since the 1998 car bomb attack on the US embassy in the capital Nairobi.

Kenyan Justice Minister Kiraitu Murungi said Monday's announcement was prompted by that criticism.

The charges come amid renewed warnings of a terror attack in the country, with the new US embassy in Nairobi closed for the time being.

The mission on the edge of the city replaced a building in central Nairobi which was blown up in 1998 during simultaneous terror attacks on US diplomatic premises in Kenya and Tanzania, which left more than 230 dead and thousands injured.

Transit point

Over the weekend, Kenyan police arrested about 40 people for alleged links to al-Qaeda and also banned flights to and from Somalia after concerns that the country could be used as a transit point for terrorism and weapons.

Aboud Rogo Mohammed, one of the four Kenyan men charged with attacking an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa
Kenya has experienced two bombings blamed on al-Qaeda

The defence lawyer criticised the weekend police arrests saying that the people have been made scapegoats.

"They are parading innocent young men and children in the street with the view to satisfying whoever it is that has required them to do this and that, that they are working on something," he said.

"But in most of these cases it is pure persecution of a group of people who are believed not to agree or who are expected not to agree with what this particular government is doing."


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Kim Barnes
"The US suspected that the attack was masterminded by al Qaeda"



SEE ALSO:
Terror threat shuts US embassy
20 Jun 03  |  Africa
Kenyan tourism faces meltdown
19 Jun 03  |  Business
East Africa's security nightmare
15 May 03  |  Africa
Q&A: Kenya travel plans
15 May 03  |  Business
Kenya fears al-Qaeda attack
14 May 03  |  Africa


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