Africa

Iranians jailed for life in Kenya over terror charges

Sayed Mousavi (L) and Ahmad Mohammed in court in Nairobi, Kenya, on 23 July 2012 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Sayed Mousavi (L) and Ahmad Mohammed are suspected to have been part of a network planning attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa

Two Iranians have been sentenced to life in prison by a Kenyan court on terrorism-related charges.

Ahmad Mohammed and Sayed Mousavi were convicted last week of possessing explosives, which they allegedly planned to use for an attack.

"I shudder to imagine the amount of damage that could have been seen," Judge Kiarie Waweru Kiarie said, AFP news agency reports.

The Iranian government denied that it was part of any plot to target Kenya.

Defence lawyer David Kirimi said he would appeal against the ruling.

"The sentencing is wrong, misconceived and outrageous, and an injustice to our clients," Mr Kirimi told AFP.

'Cry of victims'

The court said Mohammed and Mousavi were suspected to have links with a network planning bombings in the capital, Nairobi and the coastal city of Mombasa.

Judge Kiarie said he had decided to sentence them to life in prison because the "cry of victims of previous terrorist attacks is louder" than their pleas for leniency, AFP reports.

Defence lawyers alleged that Mohammed and Mousavi were interrogated by Israeli security officers while in detention.

The prosecution denied the allegation.

Mohamed and Mousavi were arrested in June 2012 and charged with possessing 15kg (33 pounds) of the powerful explosive RDX.

Soon thereafter, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran was plotting attacks against Israel in Kenya.

On Sunday, Iran's ambassador to Kenya, Malik Hussein Givzad, denied his government's involvement involved in any terror plot, Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper reports.

Iran would help Mohamed and Mousavi appeal against the ruling, he added.

However, Iran would not sever ties with Kenya over the issue, Mr Givzad said.

"Iran has cordial business relations with Kenya. This was a judicial process, which we respect," he is quoted as saying.

Kenya has been hit in recent years by a spate of bombings and abductions, blamed on Somalia's al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group.

It sent troops into Somalia in October 2011 to help the UN-backed government seize territory from the militants.

In 2002, al-Qaeda-linked militants bombed an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa, killing 18 people.

A missile was also fired, but it failed to hit its target - an Israeli charter plane flying out of Mombasa, a popular tourist resort.

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