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Verdicts Won’t Heal the Pain for Survivors

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The convictions of four men for the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania was met with reservation Tuesday by some survivors and relatives of the dead, who argued that the verdict could never make up for their injuries and bereavement.

“I’m happy,” said Gad Mwangi, whose sister Rose was the last victim to be pulled from the rubble of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, where she had survived for several hours before dying. “But there has been nothing to compensate for the loss of my sister.”

The simultaneous 1998 attacks on the embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam killed 224 people and injured more than 5,000 others. Though the U.S. and Kenyan governments launched programs to assist people after the blasts, there is a widespread belief among many Kenyans that the victims have largely been forgotten.

Two of the defendants, Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-'Owhali, 24, and Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, 27, could face the death penalty for their part in the blasts. Some survivors and relatives of the victims were adamant Tuesday that all four men should die for their crimes.

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“They should be executed so that they can’t do that again and to discourage any other act of that kind,” said Mwangi of the defendants, who also included Wadih El-Hage, 40, and Mohamed Sadeek Odeh, 35.

“Those people should be shot or hanged. After all, we are innocent people,” Jane Waithiar, who was caught in the rubble of a building next to the embassy, told Associated Press.

Few survivors have come to terms with their predicament. Many are still overwhelmed by medical ailments, psychological trauma, disfigurement and disabilities that prevent them from working. Many families have yet to recover from the loss of a breadwinner.

A Kenyan commission paid out about $4.5 million to 2,992 Kenyans, with payments ranging from $10,800 for relatives of the deceased to $500 for those who suffered minor injuries.

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The U.S. has provided about $40 million in humanitarian aid to help with medical expenses and educational fees and to rebuild buildings destroyed by the blast.

But Kenyan victims and relatives of the dead have argued that the U.S. government failed to address security fears raised by its ambassador in Nairobi more than a year before the attack and should be obliged to offer more financial and humanitarian assistance.

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Samuel Hinga Mwangi of The Times’ Nairobi Bureau contributed to this report.


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