The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) welcomes the ruling passed by Somalia's military tribunal on the case of a murdered journalist.
On 28 March, 2013, the military tribunal found Adan Sheikh Abdi Sheikh Hussein guilty of murdering journalist Hassan Yusuf Absuge in Mogadishu. The tribunal sentenced Hussein to death.
The court freed Abdi Hassan Dhuhulow— who was accused of assisting Hussein in the plot to kill Absuge— as “there was no proof to corroborate the alleged role Dhuhulow played in this case”.
Judicial sources told NUSOJ that Hussein, who is an Al-Shabaab fighter, admitted to carrying out the crime with the hope that his sentence would be reduced.
The Somali government put Hussein in a military tribunal after giving him “combatant status.” The court saw the mobile phone that Hussein used during the operation. The phone showed messages demonstrating the instructions he was given to kill the journalist, as well as messages reporting back to his rulers that he had executed the operation.
The National Intelligence and Security Agency obtained possession of the pistol that Hussein used to kill Absuge. The agency also obtained Hussein's shirt with the journalist's blood, after he was shot in the head.
“We hail this verdict, which is indeed a justice served for our colleague Hassan Yusuf Absuge and his family,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. “We hope that justice will be similarly [served] for colleagues who were murdered by criminals who are not afraid of the rule of law”.
Hassan Yusuf Absuge, head of programme at Radio Maanta, was shot dead by men armed with pistols at the Bar Ayaan junction in Mogadishu on 21 September 2012. Absuge died on the spot.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for killing Absuge because he was working as “spy” against “Allah's forces.” Absuge, a well-known radio journalist who was a member of the union, was the thirteenth journalist to be murdered in Somalia in 2012.
This case is the first time that Somali authorities resolve a journalist's murder case.
NUSOJ commends the federal government of Somalia for taking this encouraging step, and urges it to pursue other killers of journalists who are still enjoying impunity.
“This verdict sends a powerful message to perpetrators of crimes against journalists, that their crimes will not remain unpunished,” added Osman.