Hashi Omar convicted of killing Italian journalists dies in Somalia attack
MOGADISHU, Somalia - A man who was convicted by Italian authorities for allegedly killing two Italian journalists only to be released later has died in Mogadishu, the Somalia capital, following an explosion believed to have been triggered by an Improvised Explosive Device [IED].
Hashi Omar Hassan died on Wednesday in Dharkaynley district, southern Mogadishu after unknown individuals attached the IED to his vehicle, killing him instantly. No group is yet to take responsibility but Al-Shabaab militants are known to activate such attacks.
He was released from an Italian prison 18 years after his conviction following the 1994 death of two renowned journalists. The court had sentenced him after finding "sufficient evidence" on his hand in the death of Ilaria Alpi and Miran Hrovatin.
Throughout his time in prison, he insisted on his innocence, leading to his surprise release by Italian authorities. His trial was one of the most followed court episodes internationally, with Hashi often accusing prosecutors of bias in their unprecedented findings.
Before his release from prison, prosecutor Dario Razzi told the court Hassan "did not commit" the crime he served 16 years in jail for. He was the only person convicted of the murders. "If it is true that Hassan was convicted, we must also have the courage to admit that he may be innocent," Razzi said.
The Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia usually target security forces, government officials, and innocent civilians. In most cases, they kill those who don't support their ideologies or those believed to be spies of the military forces within the Horn of Africa nation.
Although the group is yet to take responsibility, such murders are associated with it for the last 15 years. The former prisoner has reportedly been living a quiet life in the capital Mogadishu until he met his unprecedented death on Wednesday.
Currently, the government has heightened the war against Al-Shabaab with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud saying he's keen to ensure the militants are defeated. On Tuesday, he hinted at future negotiations between the government and the militants.