Somaliland army court sentences 17 to deathBy ABDULKADIR KHALIF in Mogadishu | Thursday, May 17 2012 at 12:37
A Somaliland military court has sentenced 17 people to death and jailed five others for life following what it said was their role in attacking an army base on Tuesday.
The Wednesday ruling by the court sitting in Hargeisa, some 1,500 kilometres northwest of Mogadishu were immediately seen as harsh and raised concerns over its impartiality given the speedy delivery and absence of independent lawyers for those charged.
But the court judge, Col Yusuf Farah Sharmarke, said the prosecution had proved their case against those charged.
"All the suspects admitted to have participated in an armed attack against a military compound,” said the judge, adding that the display as evidence of assorted weaponry said to have been used in the attack was enough to convict the suspects.
On Tuesday, tens of people were arrested following heavy fighting between Somaliland soldiers and militant clansmen who waged a pre-dawn attack on a military base towards the east of the capital city of the self-declared republic.
"The army killed two of the attackers, wounded eight and captured 28," the commander of Somaliland's Army Gen Ismael Mohamed Shaqale said, adding that three soldiers had been killed and four others wounded in the attack.
It was the first time that a military court had sentenced so many civilians in one day since Somaliland declared itself an independent in 1991.
It has however not been recognised internationally.
Reports say the clansmen had claimed the military base was located on their ancestral land.
The fallout comes just days before Somaliland celebrates its 21st independence anniversary on May 18.
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