Uganda Court Hands Life Sentences to World Cup Bombers

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Five men were handed life sentences in Uganda on Friday for their role in twin attacks that killed 76 people and injured at least 70 more who had gathered to watch the final of the 2010 men’s soccer World Cup. The two bombings were orchestrated by the al-Shabab terrorist group in what was the first such attack outside their native Somalia.

The bombings occurred at a well-known restaurant and a sports field in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, where fans had gathered to broadcasts of the Spain vs. Netherlands final game. According to al-Shabab, the attacks were carried out in protest to the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) killings of Somalis while part of an African Union peacekeeping mission in 2007.

“The hundreds of victims of these wanton acts had nothing to do with the decision to deploy the UPDF in Somalia,” said High Court Judge Alphonse Owiny Dollo. “Yet because of these senseless and indiscriminate attacks, they are either dead or permanently living with the scars of these deeds.”

Dollo said he had decided against issuing the death penalty because he did not think it would “give closure to the indelible pain that society has suffered.”

The alleged ringleader of the attacks, Issa Luyima (pictured above) was among those sentenced to life in prison.

Two other men found guilty of aiding the terrorists were given 50-year prison sentences, while a third was let out with community service because of time already served. Of the seven men convicted, four were Kenyans, three were Ugandans and one was from Tanzania. All but the accomplice sentenced to community service were found guilty of terrorism, murder and attempted murder.

Another five defendants were cleared of similar charges when the judge read his verdict on Thursday. A total of 13 men have been tried over the bombings, with two already found guilty in 2011.

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