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Somalia: Hand Chopped Off of Man Convicted of Theft

(Sept. 11, 2009) In May 2009, the Islamic Sharia court of Kismayo district of Somalia confirmed that Mohamed Omar Ismail had been found guilty of stealing goods with an estimated total value of US$90 – including a bag, ten pairs of trousers, ten shirts, and eight other items – from another man's house. The townspeople were called by a truck with loudspeakers to witness the defendant's punishment being carried out in a public park – the amputation of his hand.

Ismail was brought out in front of the people, and an official read the court decision from a piece of paper as well as a chapter from the Qu'ran relevant to the case. Ismail reportedly looked shocked at the sentence. His right hand was held up to the crowd, then laid on a table and severed at the wrist. After the amputation, the bloody body part was dangled by its index finger in front of the crowd.

Throughout the brief trial, Ismail had maintained his innocence of the burglary for which he was punished. He is now under guard by the Islamist militia while recovering at Kismayo General Hospital. (Somali Justice – Islamist-Style, BBC WORLD NEWS, Aug. 12, 2009, available at