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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 June, 2005, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
Mombasa bombing trial collapses
Aboud Rogo Mohammed, Mohammed Kubwa, Mohammed Ali Saleh Nabhan and Omar Said Omar  in an earlier court appearance
The judge said the suspects were free to go
A Kenyan judge has thrown out charges against four men accused of murder in the case of the 2002 suicide bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa.

High court justice John Osiemo said prosecutors had failed to prove that the men were connected to the attack.

Correspondents say the trial was one of Kenya's first attempts to prosecute alleged terrorists.

Fifteen people, including three Israeli tourists, died in the attack on the Paradise Hotel.

The four suspects - Aboud Rogo Mohammed, Mohammed Kubwa, Omar Said Omar and Mohammed Ali Saleh Nabhan - are all Kenyans.

Three other men are being tried concurrently for conspiracy to bomb the hotel.

A judgement in the case is expected later this month.

'No evidence whatsoever'

The four acquitted defendants left the courtroom to cries of "God is great".

The prosecution has not established a prima facie case against the accused persons as required in criminal law to require the court to put them on their defence
Judge John Osiemo

Accused Mohammed Nabhan welcomed the verdict.

"It's fair, I'm quite happy I'm back with my family, justice has been done," he told the Associated Press news agency.

The prosecution had argued that the four men had links to known terrorists.

It was claimed in court that some of them had family ties to al-Qaeda operatives.

But the judge said the prosecution's evidence did not connect the accused to the bombing.

Under Kenyan law, judges are allowed to acquit defendants if they find the prosecution case too weak to answer.

"Since ... the suicide bombers ... perished during the attack, there is no evidence whatsoever to connect the accused to the murder of the deceased persons," Judge Osiemo said, quoted by AFP news agency.

"The prosecution has not established a prima facie case against the accused persons as required in criminal law to require the court to put them on their defence."

Torture claims

Lawyers for the defendants said they planned to sue the government over their lengthy custody.

Wreckage of the Paradise Hotel
The bombing devastated Kenya's tourist industry

The authorities have come under fire from human rights groups for delaying the proceedings and torturing suspects during the initial investigation.

The government denies the allegations of torture.

Most of the Kenyans who died in the bombing were members of a local dance group who were welcoming hotel guests.

A simultaneous rocket attack on an Israeli airliner that took off from Mombasa airport failed.

A group linked to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which dealt a severe blow to Kenya's once-thriving tourism industry.




SEE ALSO:
Kenya protests at US warnings
04 Dec 03 |  Africa
Major attacks blamed on al-Qaeda
25 Nov 03 |  Middle East


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