Kenya: life sentence for driver implicated in kidnapping of two Cuban doctors

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Cuban doctors Assel Herrera (left) and Landy Rodríguez (right), kidnapped on April 12, 2019 in Kenya, presumably by militants of the extremist group Al-Shabaab. Photo: Escambray/Archive
Cuban doctors Assel Herrera (left) and Landy Rodríguez (right), kidnapped on April 12, 2019 in Kenya, presumably by militants of the extremist group Al-Shabaab. Photo: Escambray/Archive

By:OnCuba

A Kenyan court sentenced the driver of the vehicle in which the two Cuban doctors who were kidnapped were traveling, during 2019, to life in prison after convicting him of collaborating in their abduction. The incident took place on the border of that country with Somalia.

According to local media quoted by the EFE news agency, Judge Martha Nanzushi, of the Nairobi High Court, handed down the sentence this Wednesday after convicting driver Issack Ibrein Robow on February 16.

The convicted driver had been hired by the Mandera County Government to transfer surgeon Landy Rodríguez Hernández and general medicine specialist Assel Herrera Correa to the hospital in the city of the same name, during which they were kidnapped by alleged members of the Somali jihadist group Al-Shabaab, on April 12, 2019.

Robow was found guilty of four of the five charges of which he was accused in relation to the kidnapping, and also for the murder of one of the two policemen who were escorting the Cuban professionals and who was killed by the attackers during the action.

According to the news agency, Nanzushi sentenced Robow to life in prison, as well as 25 and 15 years and six months in prison on charges of terrorism, kidnapping, collaboration in a terrorist act and irregular obtaining of identity documents, respectively. However, he was acquitted due to lack of evidence of the accusation of residing illegally in the country.

The judge regretted that, since the kidnapping occurred in the city of Mandera (northwest of Kenya and bordering Somalia), “no other doctors have been sent to the health center” of the city, EFE specified.

According to reports, the kidnapped Cuban doctors were transferred to Somalia and handed over to Al-Shabaab, which is affiliated with Al Qaeda since 2012 and controls part of central and southern Somalia in order to establish a Wahhabi (ultra-conservative) Islamic State in the country.

Last June, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez assured that he had discussed the issue of the kidnapped Cuban doctors with Kenyan Minister of Health Mutahi Kagwe during his visit to the island.

“The efforts to achieve the safe return to the homeland of our kidnapped doctors continue and I thanked his government for it,” the president stated on his Twitter account.

Cuba and Kenya continue efforts for return of kidnapped doctors

So far the fate of the two doctors is unknown. Evidence of life has not been published either, despite efforts by the governments of Cuba and Kenya.

The kidnapped doctors were part of a contingent of Cuban professionals who arrived in Kenya in 2018 as part of a bilateral agreement to improve access to specialized health services in that African country.

During his visit to Cuba, the Kenyan minister of health signed a new cooperation agreement with the island for the arrival of 101 Cuban specialists to Kenya in order to strengthen primary healthcare in that country.

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