Kenya - British bomber trial delayed

2012-01-12 22:36

Mombasa - The trial of a Briton who was reportedly radicalised in the same prison as "shoe bomber" Richard Reid opened in Kenya on Thursday where he faced charges of possessing explosive materials.

Prosecutors last month said Jermaine Grant and two others were found with various chemicals, batteries and switches which they planned to use to make explosives.

"We are not ready to proceed on the grounds that some exhibits were submitted to the government chemist and we have not received a report," Prosecutor Jacob Ondari said.

Judge Lilian Mutende granted the adjournment, saying the trial would resume on February 20.

Grant, a 29-year-old Muslim convert, had denied the charges during a previous court appearance on December 27 following his arrest in the Kenyan coastal resort of Mombasa.

He however pleaded guilty to charges of being in the country illegally and lying about his nationality, for which he was sentenced to two jail terms of two years, to run concurrently.

Grant's lawyer, Chacha Mwita, said that police had not provided him with an evidence report that his client and two others were found with bomb-making materials.

"We don't have the analysis or report of the substance or the material that was recovered. So it is unfortunate that the defence is still in darkness on the evidence that the police have," Mwita told AFP.

British recruits

Mwita also said that prosecutors had not proven Grant's nationality.

Kenya is believed to be interested in questioning Grant over possible links to Somalia's al-Qaeda-affiliated Shabaab insurgents.

According to Britain's Sunday Times, Grant became radicalised as a teenager in the same British prison, Feltham young offenders' institution in London, where Reid first turned to Islam.

Reid, who confessed to being a al-Qaeda recruit, is serving a life sentence in the United States for trying to blow up a flight from Paris to Miami in December 2001 using bombs hidden in his shoes.

Counter-terrorism experts have expressed growing concern about a steady stream of recruits, many of them British, making their way to Somalia to join the Shabaab.

US justice officials said earlier this week that a former American soldier with specialist intelligence and cryptology training has been charged with trying to join the Shabaab.

Craig Baxam, 24, who served in Iraq and South Korea, was apprehended on December 23 aboard a bus near Mombasa with several hundred dollars in cash that he intended to give the Shabaab as an introductory offer, prosecutors said.

International development minister Andrew Mitchell told BBC radio that the large number of British nationals attending Somali training camps were a security risk which needed to be addressed urgently.

"It's right that we should deepen our involvement because Somalia is a very direct threat to the security of the United Kingdom," he said in December.

"There are probably more British passport holders engaged in terrorist training in Somalia than in any other country in the world."