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KENYANS welcome end to embassy bomb case; many Saudis unaware of sentencing

Updated:
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ Kenyan survivors of the blast that killed 213 people at the U.S. embassy in Nairobi offered mixed reviews Wednesday of a federal jury's decision to sentence the bomber to life in prison.

In Nairobi, John Kinyua Kanyoti, 35, who works in the accounting department of the National Housing Corp., praised Tuesday's jury decision in New York to forgo the death penalty for Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-'Owhali.

``Even by hanging him, I don't think it will help much,'' said Kanyoti, whose right eye was perforated by flying shards of glass in the 1998 bombing. ``With a life sentence he must suffer there, but he won't suffer by hanging.''

Capital punishment exists in Kenya, although no one has been executed for more than 10 years. Execution is by hanging, so hanging and capital punishment are synonymous to Kenyans.

George Kinyanjui Gitau, 33, an accountant with Kenya Bankers Cooperative who has scars on his face and legs from the explosion, said Al-'Owhali should be executed.

``So many people died, but the men who did this seem not remorseful at all,'' Gitau said. ``He should have got the death sentence so that others who think of doing this thing think twice.''

In Saudi Arabia, many were unaware of the case, and Al-'Owhali's sentence was reported without comment in the inside pages of one Arabic-language daily and one English-language newspaper.

Al-'Owhali, 24, was convicted of riding in the truck used in the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, before leaping out and hurling stun grenades at guards. He could have been sentenced to death, but the federal court jury could not agree on that punishment.

There was no immediate reaction to the conviction from the Saudi government.

The jury must still decide whether a second defendant _ Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, 27, of Tanzania _ should be put to death for the nearly simultaneous bombing that killed 11 people at the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam. Both men were convicted May 29.

The indictment alleged the men conspired with others in Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden's organization, al-Qaeda, to attack Americans and pressure the United States to stay out of the Middle East.

Afghanistan's hard-line Taliban Islamic militia has been providing a safe haven for bin Laden. Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil said it is too early to judge Tuesday's decision ``because we don't know if the trial was conducted in the frame of justice or not.''

``It is clear, of course, that they are foreigners and this is not a fair court,'' he added.

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