Westgate Mall attackers Mohamed Ahmed Abdi and Hussein Hassan Mustafah were Friday sentenced to a combined 51 years in prison.
But Mr Abdi, a madrassa teacher, and Mr Mustafah, a man who sought refuge in Kenya after fleeing war in his home country of Somalia, will, however, serve 26 years and 11 years respectively as the court factored in the seven years they were in jail during the trial.
Mr Abdi faced four charges and Mr Mustafa two, all of which were proven by the prosecution.
Mr Abdi will serve 18 years for conspiracy to commit a terrorist act and 15 years for three counts of offering assistance to the terrorists and being in possession of material for promoting terrorism, a laptop and material for radicalization.
“You will serve 33 years minus the seven during which you have been in custody, leaving 26 years,” Milimani Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi ruled.
He said Mr Mustafa will serve 18 and 15-year terms for conspiracy to commit a terrorist act and offering assistance to terrorists, but the terms will run consecutively, and seven years also deducted, leaving 11.
The magistrate further noted that the two were accomplices, not the principal offenders, and that as such, they were to face a maximum of 20 years behind bars for each of the offences.
Police identified the mall attackers as Mohamed Abdinur Said, Ahmed Hassan Abubakar, Yahye Osman Ahmed and Hassan Mohamed Dhuhulow and said they killed them all during the attack.
Days later, Mr Abdi and Mr Mustafah were among four suspects arrested in connection to the terror attack.
Survivors and victims’ kin were disappointed with the verdict, as they had sought a life sentence.
Mr Mustafah, a father of an eight-year-old son when he was arrested, and Mr Abdi, whose marriage was cut short by his arrest, might have a chance to see their loved ones again while victims’ families will not.
During the sentencing, Mr Mustafah pleaded for leniency, saying that during his incarceration his youthful wife ran off to marry another man, abandoning their only child.
But Mr Andayi said, “The offence was very serious and the perpetrators wanted to cause pain to the victims, most of them multinationals. They must pay for causing trauma and pain to the victims.”
He added that their actions brought the entire world to a standstill and disturbed the economic web of investors who depended on the mall.
He gave the two 14 days to challenge the sentence and conviction and plead for their innocence.
Immediately after the accused’s conviction, their lawyers told the Nation that they would appeal the sentences, which they termed as punitive.
Mr Abdi was represented by lawyers Mbugua Mureithi and Victoria Wanjiku Kariuki while Mr Mustafah was represented by lawyer Chacha Mwita.
They all said they will challenge the sentence at the superior court.
But State prosecutor Edwin Okello, said he will defend the conviction and sentences at the High Court, describing them as “proper” considering the number of people killed.
“The bitter pill which each of the accused must swallow is that had they not facilitated the terrorist act, the victims would not have lost their lives,” Mr Okello said.
He added that businesses were ruined and that the scars of the attack will live forever with the victims.
“The best this court can do is send the two men to prison,” he said.
The victims’ impact report called for severe punishments for the accused.
During the conviction, the court released Liban Abdulle Omar, a refugee, who was found not to have played an active role in the attacks becoming the second suspect to be released for lack of evidence out of the four charged in connection with the terror act.
Early this month, Chief Magistrate Andayi convicted the duo for acts of terror, with the Director of Public Prosecutions announcing that “the judgment marked an end to a seven-year wait for justice.”
Notable during the court proceedings was that both Mr Abdi and Mr Mustafah did not have formal education.
It was also said they had no history of alcohol and drug abuse and no criminal records.
Throughout their trial, the suspects maintained their innocence.
Mr Abdi, 31 and single, pleaded for leniency while being sentenced, through his lawyer Victoria Kariuki.
“The accused though convicted maintains he is innocent and was arrested on his way to Kakuma with no laptop which had terrorism videos,” Probation Officer Peter Macharia stated in his pre-sentencing report on the suspect.
In his report, Mr Macharia said that his main undoing was numerous communications with one of the killed terrorists, Mr Abdinur, his brother.
The accused also communicated with another terrorism, Mr Abubakar.
On the fateful day, evidence from mobile service provider Safaricom showed that Mr Abdi received and made 37 calls on his mobile number to the mall attackers, something which the prosecutors used to place him at the centre of the attack.
Mr Abdinur had used the accused phone from which he made 226 telephone calls to unknown Al Shabaab terrorists in Somalia, according to documents filed in court.
The former Madrassa teacher at Garissa and Eastleigh Nairobi was convicted for the offences of conspiracy to commit a terrorists attack, giving support to a terrorist group and two counts of being in possession of articles connected with terrorism on September 30, 2013 upon his arrest in Kitale, Trans Nzoia County.
Mr Abdi, who comes from a polygamous family, told the probation officer, that he did not acquire any formal education as his family kept moving from one place to another in search of pasture for their cattle in the vast Garissa County.
About the offences he was charged with, Mr Abdi says he was arrested while on his way to Kakuma Refugee Camp where he was going to relieve his brother at his shop as he had some commitments.
The convict, who is single, says he was engaged to a girl by the name Rahma by the time he was arrested and “plans for their marriage were at an advanced stage but were disrupted by his arrest.”
Both the probation officer and Ms Kariuki unsuccessfully urged the magistrate to consider the seven years which the accused has been in custody.
However, the probation officer urged the magistrate to exercise its discretion and hand down the appropriate sentences “in view of the offences committed.”
Mr Mustafah is a Somali national from a place known as Koriole located in Somali’s Banadir Region.
Like Mr Abdi, he also did not attain any formal schooling. However, he attended Madrassa classes where he learnt how to recite the Quran.
According to court documents, he travelled to Kenya in 2006 as he was fleeing away from the crashes in his home country of Somali.
After arriving in Kenya, he sought protection at Dadaab refugee camp where he stayed until 2009 when he was moved to Kakuma refugee camp by UNHCR, who cited congestion at Dadaab Camp as the reason for the move.
In 2010, Mr Mustafah moved to Eastleigh where he secured employment as a shop attendant at the popular Hong Kong Mall. Until his arrest, he shuffled between Nairobi and Hagadera selling clothes.
Mr Mustafah is the only son in his family and has no close relations living in Kenya. According to court documents, all his relatives are domiciled in Somali.
Mr Mustafah was captured on CCTV cameras alongside the attackers as they made a transaction for the purchase of the vehicle used to ferry the attackers to the mall.