Kenya tourist death: Man denies woman's abduction

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Map of KenyaImage source, (C) British Broadcasting Corporation

A Kenyan man has appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to two charges following the murder of a British tourist and the abduction of his wife.

Ali Babitu Kololo denied the abduction of 56-year-old Judith Tebbutt, and a charge of robbery with violence.

David Tebbutt, 58, from Herts, was shot dead at a remote Kenyan resort on 11 September. Somali pirates are thought to be holding Mrs Tebbutt.

A second Kenyan man, Issa Sheck Saadi, is expected to appear in court later.

It is not clear if the people now holding Judith Tebbutt are the same as those who kidnapped her.

Mr Kololo, who used to work in Kiwayi, the remote resort where the Tebbutts were staying, says he was forced at gunpoint to lead the gang to the hotel and was not a willing accomplice.

The BBC's East Africa correspondent, Will Ross, says the court case may shed some light on the attack itself but it is unlikely to help in the effort to secure Mrs Tebbutt's release.

He said the latest reports indicate she is being held near Haredhere, a pirate base almost 200 miles (320 km) up the coast from the Somali capital, Mogadishu - the same area where the British couple Paul and Rachel Chandler were held hostage for more than a year.

"These pirates are unlikely to have any kind of compassion for Judith Tebbutt and the fact that her husband was shot dead in front of her," our correspondent added.

"They are simply going to be after money, and the most likely scenario now is we are going to hear a ransom demand soon."

'Sold on'

Mrs Tebbutt was reportedly taken at first to a part of southern Somalia largely controlled by the Islamist extremist group al-Shabaab.

"But those originally holding her may well have considered it not worth the risk and have reportedly sold her on," said BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner.

He said it was believed the pirate gang holding Mrs Tebbutt was in the process of appointing a translator and negotiator.

British police have been in Kenya to help find Mrs Tebbutt.

The couple come from Bishop's Stortford and their son Oliver lives in Watford.

Somalia has been racked by fighting between various militias for two decades, so weapons are widely available and there are many armed groups who could be responsible.

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