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Military court upholds death sentence of former Al-Shabaab journalist

Storyline:National News

A military court in Mogadishu on Saturday upheld the sentence of Hassan Hanafi, a former journalist, who was found guilty of direct or indirect involvement in the killing five journalists on behalf of Al-Shabaab.

Hanafi, helped Al-Shabaab by identifying possible targets amongst journalists between 2007 and 2011 who had portrayed the al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters in a bad light.

Chairman of the Somali military court in Mogadishu, Liban Ali  Yarow, said the court upheld the death sentence by another military court earlier this month.

“He will be put to death as soon as possible,” said the court.

The 30-year-old who was arrested in neighbouring Kenya in 2015 and then returned to Somalia for trial said he joined al Shabaab in 2008 when he was working as a journalist for a local Somali broadcaster called Radio IQK before joining Radio Andalus, al-Shabaab’s mouthpiece in Somalia.

Journalists have been frequent targets for attacks and violence carried out by al Shabaab. The militants are suspected to have been responsible for the deaths of four journalists in 2014, according to figures from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Despite successes against Al-Shabaab, the group has remained a potent antagonist in Somalia, launching frequent attacks in its bid to overthrow the Western-backed government. Somalia plunged into anarchy in the early 1990s following the toppling of military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, and has been struggling to rebuild in the decades since, particularly in the face of the fight against Al-Shabaab.