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Briton had bomb-making chemicals, local expert tells trial

19 June 2014, 22:51

Mombasa - A Briton on trial in Kenya for plotting bomb attacks possessed chemicals capable of making an explosion, a government chemist told a court in the port city of Mombasa Thursday.

Suspected British militant Jermaine Grant, accused of ties to Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab and plotting attacks, was arrested in December 2011 in Mombasa with various chemicals, batteries and switches, which prosecutors say he planned to use to make explosives. He denies the charges.

"The chemicals are capable of causing explosions and they are not normal household chemicals, they are only found in laboratories," Simon Sunguti, a government chemical analyst based in Nairobi, told the court.

Sunguti told magistrate Joyce Gandani that the three chemicals found with Grant, if mixed and triggered, could have caused a blast.

Asked by Grant's lawyer Chacha Mwita if he had carried out experiments to back his testimony, Sunguti replied: "I was not trained to risk my life, but to carry out scientific analysis."

The long-running trial continues Friday, when specialist British police officers and Kenyan police are expected to testify, the last witnesses expected in the prosecution's case.

Prosecutors have accused Grant, a Muslim convert, of working with fellow Briton Samantha Lewthwaite -- the fugitive widow of British suicide bomber Germaine Lindsay, who blew himself up on a London Underground train on July 7, 2005, killing 26 people.

Lewthwaite, a mother-of-three and daughter of a British soldier, is wanted by Kenyan police and there was some speculation that she was involved in last year's Westgate mall siege in Nairobi.

Grant is believed to have become radicalised as a teenager in the same British prison where "shoe bomber" Richard Reid first turned to Islam.

Reid, who claimed he was an Al-Qaeda recruit, is serving a life sentence in the United States for trying to blow up a flight from Paris to Miami in December 2001.

In December 2011 Grant pleaded guilty to charges of being in the country illegally and lying about his nationality, for which he was sentenced to two jail terms of two years, to run concurrently.




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