A military court in Somalia yesterday handed the death penalty to one of five suspects in the Mogadishu truck bomb attacks which killed more than 500 people last year, All Africa reported.

On 14 October a truck bomb exploded outside a busy hotel in Mogadishu; it was followed by a second blast in a market two hours later. Some 512 Somali civilians were killed in the attacks.

The five defendants made their first appearance in court in early January.

“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,” Hassan Ali Shute, chairman of the tribunal, said.

Isak was the driver of a second truck that was intended to be used in a second bombing attack on the same day in the capital.

A second defendant in the case, Ibrahim Hassan Absuge, was given life term for his role in the bombing.

“Absuge was responsible for buying the trucks and cars that Al-Shabab uses for blasts,” Shute said. “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 November 26, 2016 that killed 20 people”.

A third defendant, Abdiwali Ahmed Diriye, was given three years in prison. Two other defendants were freed due to a lack of evidence.

Al-Shabaab, a group which pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda in 2012, regularly conducts improvised explosive attacks in civilian areas but has still not claimed responsibility for these bombs. Nevertheless, the Somali Federal Government has accused it of the killings.

According to the Guardian newspaper, the truck bomber was a former Somali soldier whose hometown was raided by US troops in August. The October bombings may have been carried out in revenge for the botched raid in which ten civilians were killed.

Last week, a roadside explosive device exploded eight miles outside Somalia’s Mogadishu killing three civilians and injuring two. (middle east monitor)