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Did police arrest innocent man over Mpeketoni killings?

Mr Salim Dyana, one of the two suspects arrested Wednesday, June 18, 2014 over Mpeketoni attack that left at least 60 people dead. Before his arrest, Mr Salim narrated from a hospital bed in Lamu his ordeal at the hands of the gunmen

Mr Salim Dyana, one of the two suspects arrested Wednesday, June 18, 2014 over Mpeketoni attack that left at least 60 people dead. Before his arrest, Mr Salim narrated from a hospital bed in Lamu his ordeal at the hands of the gunmen

A man was arrested in Lamu as a suspect in the Mpeketoni killings.

Mr Dyana Salim, was the driver of one of the two vehicles that the killers commandeered for their murderous mission.

Director of Criminal Investigation Muhoro Ndegwa on Thursday said Mr Salim was the only suspect in custody but Friday four people, including a man said to be an official of the Orange Democratic Party in the area, appeared in a Lamu court in the afternoon.

Mr Salim was among them.

Mr Salim appeared before acting senior resident magistrate D.M Ireri alongside Mr Lucas Bososi Ombui and Mr Idris Dada Farah and Ms Cecily Njeri Ndugo.

They however, did not take a plea because the prosecutor, Mr Caleb Mutonyo, said the suspects were being investigated over the attack and asked the magistrate to grant police seven days to conclude their investigation.

The court directed that the four be held in custody for a week.

More than 50 people were killed in the Sunday night attack.

Before his arrest, Mr Salim narrated from a hospital bed in Lamu his ordeal at the hands of the gunmen.

“I was driving from Malindi to Lamu with other matatus. On reaching Mambo Sasa, we heard gunshots. A group of gunmen who had parked two vehicles in the middle of the road ordered us to drive into the forest. I had seven passengers on board and the other matatu had six,” he said.

Mr Salim said the attackers then ordered them to lie on their stomachs before assaulting them with gun butts, kicks and blows before ordering him to surrender his vehicle.

“They kicked me in the eye and I was afraid they would kill me. They only let me go after I agreed to surrender the vehicle,” said Mr Salim at the King Fahad District Hospital.

However, he said, the driver of the other matatu and his conductor were shot after they refused to surrender their vehicle.

PICKED UP BY A BUS

He said he does not know what happened to the passengers in the matatus.

Mr Salim said after he was set free, he walked to the main road with the intention of reporting the incident to Witu police station but he was picked up by a bus heading to Lamu.

The driver of the bus belonging to Tawakal Mini Bus Company narrated how they found Mr Salim, naked, in an area where dangerous animals like buffaloes roam.

“We were travelling from Mombasa to Lamu with a matatu ahead of us. We stopped at Witu town to drop some parcels and passengers. On reaching Mambo Sasa, we spotted a man in the middle of the road at about 8.30 pm. We were shocked because it is unusual to see people in this forested area at night, so we stopped to pick him,” said the driver who requested not to be named.

“He told us how he was beaten by heavily armed men who ordered him to surrender his vehicle. He was complaining of severe chest pains and had an injured eye,” the driver said.

He said police officers on the bus questioned Mr Salim briefly. “At Kibaoni Junction, we were informed of gunshots being heard at Mpeketoni town but we proceeded and crossed to Lamu Island where the officers took him to the police station to record a statement,” he said.

Mpeketoni Deputy County Commissioner Benson Maisori said on Thursday, Mr Salim led investigators to Mambo Sasa forest where the bodies of the matatu driver and his conductor, who police identified as Mr Joseph Mututa Kithuku, 50, and Mr James Masila Kithuku, 25, were found.

“He is, however, being held as a suspect,” Mr Maisori told Saturday Nation on the phone.

Meanwhile, Mr Salim’s family say they are baffled by his arrest and detention and insist he is innocent.

His sister Salim Suleiman told Saturday Nation that her elder brother, a father of three, used to be a conductor with bus companies plying the Mombasa-Malindi highway before he became a driver due to sheer determination.

Ms Suleiman said relatives, friends and neighbours in their Malindi neighbourhood were in shock after his arrest as he is a well known person.

She appealed to the police to set him free as he suffered from diabetes and was injured.

“We are afraid to go see him because we might face the same fate. If they can arrest an innocent man like my brother. What makes us safe?” she asked

-Nation

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