Abduction of Italian volunteer: Motorbike seller testifies in court

Mr Moses Luwali (left) and Mr Abdulla Gababa Wario, who are suspects in the kidnapping of an Italian volunteer, before a Malindi court on July 31, 2019. PHOTO | CHARLES LWANGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Gunmen on November 20 last year kidnapped Ms Romano, 23, a manager of a non-governmental organisation known as African Milele Onlus and wounded five locals.
  • The whereabouts of Ms Silvia Romano remains unknown.

Two motorbikes used to kidnap an Italian volunteer last November were brought to Malindi three days before her abduction, a Kilifi court has been told.

Mr John Karani, a businessman, told Chief Magistrate Julie Oseko Thursday that he sold one motorbike at Sh40,000 and another at Sh35,000 to Mr Said Adan Abdi, one of the three key suspects whom police have placed a Sh1 million bounty on their heads.


Mr Karani, explained to court during cross examination by defence lawyer Tonia Mwania that he did not know that the buyer was intending kidnap the Italian volunteer in Chakama.

He was testifying in a case where Mr Moses Luwali and Mr Adulla Gababa Wario together with others not present in court have been charged with kidnapping Ms Silvia Romano on November 20 last year.

The whereabouts of Ms Romano remains unknown.

The suspects are charged with abducting Ms Romano in order to cause grievous harm, slavery and compelling the Italian embassy to pay ransom as an explicit condition for release.

During the trial, Mr Karani also provided sale agreements in court showing that one of the suspects in court Mr Luwali witnessed the motorbike purchase.

The other sale witnesses were Mr Abdi Aziz Adan and Mr Harith Adan who were not present in court.

Mr Karani further said he later heard shocking reports in the media that one of his customers has been named as a mastermind in the kidnapping of Ms Romano and police had placed a bounty on his head.

Mr Macdonald Ngowa, the area chief testified that the kidnaping of Ms Romano, who had stayed at a rental room in Chakama for two months, left many beneficiaries of the Africa Milele Organisation worried.

“I was at a shop with Ms Romano and I left her after two minutes and went to watch the evening news at another shop and I heard a loud bang which was followed by sounds of a fire,” he said.

Mr Ngowa said he ordered them to lie down for their safety as the shooting continued for five more minutes.

"Silvia also cried out my name for help saying ‘Macdonald come and help me’ and her voice continued to fade as the attackers carried her away towards River Galana on foot," he said.

He said he later called Mr John Kamau, the deputy county commissioner and police officers in Langobaya to inform them that an Italian aid worker had been abducted by unknown people.

"Police officers arrived at Chakama two hours after the incident and it was too dark and late to pursue the attackers who had already crossed the river," he said.

Mr Ngowa said he then went back to Chakama shopping centre where he called the ambulance services to ferry four children and a woman who had been shot.

"A police reinforcement arrived from Malindi at around 11 pm but could not cross the river hence opted to drive back to Malindi to cross it through Sabaki bridge then proceed to Marafa and Matolani village where the attackers are said to be hiding," he said.

The chief said they pursued the suspects the following morning and even mobilized youths to track them on foot and motorcycle prints before they were joined by Kenya Defence Forces officers who deployed helicopters.

 “After moving for about 30 kilometers, we found one of the motorbikes present in court stuck in the mud at Visiki Sub location,” he said.

Mr Ngowa further said the KDF later recovered the second motorbike hidden in the bush which they suspect it was used by the attackers.

The two accused also faced the charge of conspiracy to effect unlawful purpose by organising a meeting with intention of kidnapping Ms Romano.

They had been released on a Sh3m bond with two sureties of similar amount but only Mr Luwali managed to pay and he is out while his co accused is remanded at the Malindi GK Prison.

The magistrate slated the hearing for August 21 and directed the prosecution to bring all the witnesses for hearing.

In addition, she also directed the case against one of the three key suspects with a Sh1 million bounties, Mr Ibrahim Adan Omar who was charged with unlawful possession of firearm to be heard on August 19.

Mr Omar was arrested on December 8 last year in Bangale, Tana River County while escaping police dragnet and An AK-47 rifle, two magazines and 100 rounds of ammunition were recovered from him.

Other key suspects linked to the abduction with a Sh1 million bounty each on their head are Yusuf Kuno Adan and Said Adan Abdi, who are still on the run.