Updated at: 07/29/2013 2:35 PM
(AP) LAMU, Kenya - A Kenyan man was Monday sentenced to death for the September 2011 killing of a British man who was shot dead and his wife kidnapped by Somali gunmen at an island resort on the Kenya coast.
Magistrate Johnstone Munguti found Ali Babito Kololo guilty of the murder of British tourist David Tebbutt, 58, who was killed. Tebbutt’s wife Judith, 56, was abducted and taken to Somalia and held by pirates before being released after six months.
Munguti also sentenced Kololo to seven years in jail for the wife’s abduction.
Kenya has not carried out a death sentence in the past 26 years and most sentences for death row prisoners are commuted to life imprisonment.
After the sentence was announced, Kololo said in Swahili, "I am innocent. Let the court do what it wants to do. I have been victimized in this, since I was also kidnapped."
Munguti said Kololo was convicted on circumstantial evidence after a total of 20 witnesses, including Judith Tebutt, testified in the case. The investigation was assisted by officers from Britain’s Metropolitan Police Service Counter Terrorism Command.
A small team of British officers travelled to Kenya shortly after the murder and kidnap to support the local police investigation. Inquiries matched footprints found on the beach after Judith Tebbutt’s abduction to the shoes worn by Kololo when he was arrested shortly after the incident.
Judith Tebutt’s kidnapping was among a string of abductions by Somali gunmen along the Kenya-Somali border. Kenya’s military cited those attacks as the reason it sent troops in October 2011 into Somalia to fight the Islamic extremist rebels of al-Shabab.
Gunmen easily entered the Tebbutt’s cottage at the Kiwayu Safari Village resort on the night of Sept. 10 _ the door was only a piece of colorful cloth. Police believe David Tebbutt resisted and was shot. The Tebbutts were the only tourists staying at the 18-cottage resort, located along a private beach 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Lamu, and the kidnappers spirited Judith Tebbutt away in a boat.
A month later, gunmen kidnapped a disabled French woman who lived part-time in Lamu. She died in captivity.
Before African Union troops expelled al-Qaida linked al-Shabab insurgent group from the major cities late 2012, kidnapping was a big business in Somalia, where opportunities to make money are limited.
Two Spanish aid workers with the aid group Doctors Without Borders, who were kidnapped by Somali militants from a Kenyan refugee camp in October 2011, were released earlier this month, ending a 21-month hostage ordeal.
In January 2012, U.S. Navy SEALs parachuted into Somalia and hiked to where a criminal gang was holding a 32-year-old American and a 60-year-old Dane kidnapped October 2011. Nine captors were killed in the raid that freed the two hostages.
AP writer Cassandra Vinograd contributed to this report from London, U.K.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)