Scotland Yard continues the search for Tebbutt killers and kidnappers

PHOTO | FILE Judith Tebbutt.

The British Government is still pursuing five Somali pirates who kidnapped Judith Tebbutt and shot dead her publishing executive husband David three years ago at a beach resort on Kiwayu Island, Lamu.

A senior detective with Scotland Yard told the Sunday Nation the police are following up crucial leads that could help them seize the gunmen who held Mrs Tebbutt hostage for six months in Somalia.

The British press reported that the gang reportedly received a Sh90 million ransom for the release of the partially deaf social worker.

Detective Superintendent Neil Hibberd, who is in charge of British counter-terrorism operations in East Africa and Horn of Africa region, said Scotland Yard is committed to arresting Mr Tebbutt’s killers and his widow’s abductors in collaboration with unnamed regional security agencies.

“We are serious in our operations to arrest the rest of gang whether they are affiliated to terrorists or pirate groups,” Mr Hibberd told the Sunday Nation outside the Lamu court on July 29 following the conviction and sentencing of Ali Babitu Kololo for his role in the killing and kidnapping.

“At the moment we wish not to comment further but as I have stated we are keen on ensuring the rest of the gang who were accomplices of Ali Babitu Kololo are arrested and taken through due judicial process.”

But Mr Hibberd, who was flanked by Detective Chief Inspector Robbert Jeffery, was non-committal on reports that Kenya and Somalia national intelligence teams are involved in the investigations.

Mr Hibberd was among 12 British detectives flown to Kiwayu Island shortly after the September 10, 2011 attack at the Kiwayu Safari Village (KSV) beach resort.

The team included crime scene experts, and ballistic and blood sampling scientists who were invited by the Kenya Government to assist in the investigations.

Mr Hibberd described Mr Kololo, who was sentenced to death for the violent attack on the British couple by Lamu senior principal magistrate Johnstone Munguti, as a key member of a Somali pirate gang.

“I believe that Mr Kololo was a key member of the gang that attacked Kiwayu Safari Village which led to the cold-blooded murder of Mr David Tebbutt and kidnap of his wife, Judith (pictured), who was subsequently taken to Somalia for six months,” he said.

Mr Ali Kololo was convicted on circumstantial evidence on two counts of robbery with violence and kidnapping with intent to cause murder. In his judgment, Mr Munguti found him criminally responsible for planning and executing the violent attack.

“The court finds you as an active participant because you were involved in planning and kidnapping. The fact that you removed Mrs Tebbutt from Banda Zero before she was taken to Somalia means you are held criminally liable.”

“The court has entered a conviction order for both counts and sentenced you according to the laws of our land. For the first charge of robbery with violence, I have sentenced you to suffer death and for the second count, I have sentenced you to seven years in prison,” he said.

The court dismissed Kololo’s defence that he was himself a victim of kidnapping after he alleged to have been arrested while on his way to report an incident where he claimed to have been kidnapped by nine armed Somali poachers at Mkokoni police station.

The court said it is not credible that Kololo’s alleged kidnapping could happen the same night the Tebbutts were attacked by armed Somali pirates inside their cottage.

“The fact that you arrived at Mvundeni village at Mr Omar Bunu’s (a witness) house at midnight on the same night Judith Tebbutt was removed from Banda Zero (cottage)and taken to Somalia does not add up. If you claim to have been kidnapped, how then did you end up following the same people in the same direction they were going?” he asked.

The magistrate said the accused knew the area very well and directly participated in the attack, based on consistent evidence from 20 prosecution witnesses and exhibits. He said a print from a Tanga shoe similar to one worn by Mr Kololo at the time of his arrest was spotted in various places on around the beach and near cottages.

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