MOGADISHU, Somalia – A member of the Somali National Army [SNA] was struck on Thursday with a death sentence after being convicted of rape, the military court confirmed in the latest major ruling demonstrating Somalia’s ability to fight impunity among government officials.
Mohamed Hussein Elmi, who had served in the army for a few years, was found guilty of raping a 4-year-old girl from the Wadajir District of Mogadishu in an incident that caused outrage among the public and those from civil society when it was first discovered .
The military court ruled that the convict was a neighbor of the girl in the capital Mogadishu, and he exploited her innocence to commit the act. The girl had come to her house before the tragedy fell, the military court confirmed in the historic verdict.
Military Justice Chief Colonel Hassan Ali Nor said the death sentence was based on “concrete” evidence, adding that the crime was committed in May 2020. The victim was identified as Abdishakur Botan and the family had given “overwhelming” evidence to trigger convection.
Meanwhile, Hassan Nor added that the convicted soldier only had one option, which is to apply for appeal if he was not satisfied with the death sentence. It is not clear whether the convict will appeal the verdict or not, but such cases cannot be easily overturned by the military court.
That milestone decision has already been well received even within the military circles. Lieutenant Colonel Iman Elman, a member of the elite soldiers, welcomed the verdict but challenged civil courts to do more in dealing with rape incidents, which are often reported in Somalia.
“Fantastic! Can we now do the same for all the other rapists? Why do so many come off the hook without charges? Is it because the military court has taken a tougher stance on the rapist than the civil court? Kudos to the Somali military court but what does the civil court by these rapists, “said Elman, one of the prominent female soldiers in the Horn of Africa.
Military law often executes convictions and executions against Al-Shabaab militants and government soldiers who commit crimes despite condemnation from human rights groups, including the European Union. More often than not, it is government soldiers who are linked to cases of sexual violence.
Military courts have proved effective in Somalia under the leadership of Colonel Hassan Ali Nor following the convictions of several stubborn criminals, including members of Al-Shabaab. Two weeks ago, he survived an attack in Gedo after overseeing another soldier’s conviction linked to the January 5 attack on US Naval Base in Manda Airfield, Kenya.
The attack was the first successful operation by the militants on the US military in Africa. The incident left three Americans dead among them a soldier, leading to an intensive breakdown against Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
The conviction comes just days after the newly appointed Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble promised to appoint a special rapporteur to combat sexual violence in Somalia during his introductory speech backed by the European Union and the United Nations.
“I am concerned about the increase in sexual violence against women and children. Through a dedicated team, my office will work to ensure that these cases are combated by ensuring that the necessary steps are taken,” the Prime Minister said in a statement. way for opportunity to push for the law on sexual offense in parliament.