Monday, June 29, 2009

Somali Islamist militiamen stone murderer to death

Stoned to death. File photo.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

MOGADISHU (AFP) - Masked Somali Islamist militiamen on Sunday stoned to death a man accused of rape and murder in front of a crowd of more than 1,000 people south of Mogadishu, officials and witnesses said.

An ad-hoc court set up by the hardline Shebab movement in the town of Wanlaweyn, 90 kilometres (55 miles) south the capital, found Mohamed Mohamoud Abdi guilty of raping and murdering a teenage girl.

"This man was accused of raping and killing an 18-year-old girl in May this year. The court found him guilty of the charges brought against him," Sheikh Mohamed Saleban, a local Shebab official, told AFP.

"He was a married man, which is why the court sentenced him to be stoned to death," he added, explaining that a rape conviction only incurs flogging.

Abdullahi Husein, a resident of Wanlaweyn, said most of the town's population turned out to watch the lynching, where Shebab gunmen banned cameras and mobile phones.

"Ten masked men from the Shebab forces stoned him to death in front of everyone. They had dug a hole, buried him to his neck before throwing stones at him," he said.

On Thursday, Shebab forces in Mogadishu publicly amputated the right hand and left foot of four men accused of theft.

The four suspected robbers' ages were not immediately clear but witnesses said they looked very young and that some of them were most likely teenagers.

While most of the political players in Somalia recognise Islam as the main source of legislation, the Shebab advocate a very strict interpretation of Sharia.

An alliance including the Shebab and other hardline Islamists has since last year controlled and administered large parts of southern Somalia, where courts impose tough sentences that have been condemned by rights groups.

In October, a 13-year-old girl was stoned to death in public by around 50 men in the southern city of Kismayo. She was accused of adultery by local hardline Islamists after reporting that she had been raped by three men.

Amnesty International issued a statement condemning the Shebab -- who are engaged in a deadly military offensive against the fledgling administration of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed -- over Thursday's sentences.

"These punishments amount to torture," said Tawanda Hondora, the London-based watchdog's Africa Deputy Director, in a statement.

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