Thursday, September 10, 2009


Somali Islamists cut off 2 men's hands in capital

MOGADISHU, Somalia — A Somali Islamic court hacked a hand each from two screaming men accused of theft and lashed another accused of rape on Wednesday, officials and a witness said, the latest in a series of harsh punishments that have elicited both admiration and revulsion from the war-weary population.

A witness said two masked men carried out the amputations immediately after Sheik Abdibasit Mohamed, an Islamic judge in northern Mogadishu, pronounced the sentence in front of a crowd of around a hundred residents. The screaming victims had their hands hacked off by large knives on a wooden table dripping with blood. The two were later taken to hospital by medical staff, the witness said. He declined to be named for fear of reprisals.

A teenager was given 100 lashes after being accused of rape, he said.

Al-Shabab militia spokesman Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage said the three men had admitted the charges against them.

Four other men had their hands amputated in June after being accused of theft, one of several such incidents, and Amnesty International reported in October 2008 a 13-year-old girl was publicly stoned to death by 50 militia men after she had reported being gang-raped.

The Islamic courts were the birthplace of Somalia's Islamist insurgency. Initially they enjoyed widespread support as judges handed down harsh sentences to control the crime and killing that had plagued the country since it dissolved into civil war in 1991.

But the amputations and stonings that have been carried out are not traditional punishments in Somalia. Some Somalis have expressed fear the courts may be influenced by stricter ideology as foreign fighters have flooded into the country to try to topple the weak U.N.-backed government. Its forces control only pockets of the capital and cannot even interfere with the public punishments carried out by courts linked to the insurgency.

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