A Somali military court has given the death penalty to a man convicted of leading the unit behind an October truck bombing that officials say killed at least 500 people.
Hassan Ali Shute, the chairman of the tribunal, said the convict, Hassan Aden Isak, was also the driver of a truck intended to be used in a second bombing on the same day.
“Hassan Aden Isak was the leader of al-Shabab militants’ unit that carries out explosions and assassinations in Mogadishu, and was responsible for the two trucks that exploded in Mogadishu on October 14. Therefore, after [reviewing] all evidence, he faces death penalty,” said Shute.
Shute said Isak will be executed soon by a firing squad unless lawyers appeal his sentence.
He said the court has also sentenced Ibrahim Hassan Absuge in absentia to life in prison for his role in the truck bombing.
“Absuge was responsible for buying the trucks and cars that al-Shabab uses for blasts,” said Shute. ” He was the owner of the truck that was used for the deadly October bombing in Mogadishu. He was also the owner of a minibus that was detonated at a vegetable market in Mogadishu’s Waberi district on Nov. 26, 2016 that killed 20 people.”
Abdiwali Ahmed Diriye was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the attack.
The court acquitted two other suspects, Mukhtar Mohamud Hassan and Abdul Abdi Warsame, and ordered their release.
Anger over the October truck bombing triggered rare protests against al-Shabab on the streets of Mogadishu and among Somali communities abroad.
Al-Shabab has not claimed responsibility for the attack but Somali government officials have said they are certain the al-Qaida-linked militants were behind it. Officials and many Somalis believe al-Shabab did not claim the attack because of the negative public reaction.
The group, which is trying to overthrow the Somali federal government, has previously claimed responsibility for dozens of suicide bombings in and around Mogadishu.