19 Sep 2011

Kenyan denies kidnapping British holidaymaker

A Kenyan man has denied kidnapping British holidaymaker Judith Tebbutt, whose husband David was shot dead in a remote resort.

Tourists walk along the beach at Kiwayu Safari Village, where British holidaymaker David Tebbutt was killed and his wife Judith kidnapped (Reuters)

Ali Babitu Kololo, who is charged with kidnapping and violence, told a court in the Kenyan town of Lamu that he had been forced at gunpoint to help the gang that seized Mrs Tebbutt and killed Mr Tebbutt.

He said he had gone voluntarily to the police to report the crime. But a senior police source in Lamu said: “More charges may be preferred depending on the investigation’s outcome. The suspect, we believe, was very much aware of the attack, may have harboured the bandits, knowing very well what they had intended to do.”

Robbery with violence is a capital offence in Kenya. A second man, Issa Sheck Saadi, is also expected to appear in court.

Attacked at remote resort

The Tebbutts, from Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, were staying at Kiwayi Safari Village, near Kenya’s border with Somalia, when they were attacked on 11 September.

According to the latest reports, Mrs Tebbutt, who is a 56-year-old social worker, is being held near Haredhere, a pirate base 200 miles from the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

In the past, kidnapping has been carried out by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, but Somali gunmen have attacked westerners just across the border with Kenya on several occasions.

On 14 September, the Somali Islamist group, al-Shabaab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, denied being involved in the kidnap. On the same day, Prime Minister David Cameron said the government was doing everything possible to resolve the matter. The government’s policy is not to pay ransoms to kidnappers.

Paul and Rachel Chandler were kidnapped by Somali pirates in October 2009 while sailing their yacht from the Seychelles to Tanzania. They were held hostage for a year.