By: Yusuf M Hasan
ERIGAVO (Somalilandsun) – “You have been found guilty of gross misconduct and dereliction of duties” said Judge Ahmed Salah of the Sanaag regional high court during the sentencing of five military officers sentenced to death.
The five former officers of the Somaliland national Army were sent to the death chambers after the Sanaag regional High Court sitting in Erigavo town found them guilty of having committed murder in El Afweine town Sanaag region.
According to the prosecutor the five military officers committed the heinous act during a shoot-out with police in an area 7 Kms south of El Afweine town where the deceased, a community leader tried to cool tempers of the army officers who had earlier on confiscated a truckload of Khat.
The fateful incidence that occurred at the height of a brief tax increase stand-off between the Khat merchants and the ministry of finance saw the army officers commandeer a vehicle transporting Khat leaves to Erigavo town after a merchant refused to pay the new tax charges imposed by the ministry.
While it is not yet clear why the army was involved in police work, the five officers reportedly confronted the merchant and threw him and his crew out of the Khat laden vehicle which they confiscated and drove towards El Afweine.
Following A relentless pursuit by police officers the hijacked vehicle was located in the outskirts of El Afweine town where a fierce gun battle ensued thus area leaders intervention geared towards a peaceful end to the saga.
Though the elders were not only unarmed but had managed to persuade the police to stop shooting, the army unit of five servicemen discernible intoxicated by the green leaved Khat plant which they now had in abundance fired directly into the advancing peace seeking elders resulting in the death of one and injuries to two others.
Sentencing the five rogue officers to death Judge Ahmed Salah sitting at the Sanaag regional High court termed the five as worthy of the gallows for their heinous act of harassing citizens and confiscating their property.
“This is contrary to the known good behaviour and community support provided citizens by the well-disciplined national army” said Judge Salah as the five rogue officers were sent to prison to await death by firing squad.