A British woman whose husband was murdered by Somali pirates who then held her hostage for six months is supporting the legal appeal of the only man convicted.
Jude Tebbutt does not believe Ali Babitu Kololo, a Kenyan, received a fair trial, and claimed he has been made a scapegoat for the terrifying incident in 2011.
Mr Kololo was convicted of leading the attackers to the bungalow where Mrs Tebbutt and her husband, David, were staying, but she does not recognise him.
Ali Babitu Kololo (pictured in an undated grab from BBC News) was convicted of leading a gang of pirates to the bungalow where Jude Tebbutt and her husband, David, were staying
‘I do want justice, but I don’t want justice at any cost,’ she told BBC News. ‘I don’t want anyone sentenced and put into prison and spend seven years of his life when there is any shadow of a doubt over it.’
‘I thought that there’d be someone coming through that door that was a representation of the two men who dragged me out of bed that night, the two men – one of whom, or both of them, murdered David, the men that were in the boat, the men that kept me for over six months. But honestly … it wasn’t one of those men.’
‘I think a wrong should be righted. And when I say wrong I mean the fact that Mr Kololo didn’t have a fair trial.’
BBC News learnt that a former Metropolitan Police Officer, Neil Hibberd, is under investigation for his role in the case, and that investigation is examining whether he may have committed a crime.
Within a few days of the kidnap, a team of counterterrorism detectives from the Metropolitan Police flew to Kenya to help with the investigation.
In 2012 local man Abi Babitu Kololo was convicted in a Kenyan court and sentenced to death – later commuted to life imprisonment. Mr Kololo was without a lawyer and translator for parts of his trial.
Mrs Tebbutt said she does not recognise Mr Kololo as one of the attackers and says she is supporting his legal appeal
Mr Kololo was convicted of murder in 2012. Pictured: Mr and Mrs Tubbutt in an undated photo
The head of the Met’s investigation team, Detective Superintendent Neil Hibberd, was the prosecution’s key witness.
Now Mr Hibberd is himself under investigation for possible criminal conduct and Judith Tebbutt is supporting the appeal of the only man convicted of involvement in her husband’s murder.
In court proceedings Mr Kololo’s lawyers have claimed that Neil Hibberd withheld forensic evidence which undermined the case against him, that he misled the court by giving selective evidence, and that he should not have taken part in a trial where the defendant faced the death penalty, and had been tortured.
Mrs Tubbutt pictured on the day she was freed in Somalia in March 2012
BBC News understands that Mr Hibberd will shortly be interviewed by the National Crime Agency, in an investigation overseen by the police watchdog the IPOC.
In a letter seen by BBC News the Metropolitan Police confirmed Mr Hibberd, who has now retired, is being investigated to see if he may have committed a criminal offence or misconduct or gross misconduct.
Mr Hibberd’s lawyers told the BBC that he intends to co-operate with the investigation. I really believed him.’
Jude Tebbutt admitted some people might think it was surprising that she was standing up for the man convicted for his role in her husband’s death but she said ‘It is the right thing to do.’
Mrs Tebbutt said her husband David was an honourable man and ‘the honourable thing to do now is to hopefully get a fair trial. That is the least Mr Kololo deserves.’
‘Mr Neil Hibberd said to me that if it was the last thing that he did he would find the murderer of David and the people responsible for abducting me. And I believed him. I really believed him.
‘I think they have to take ownership of what they did back in 2011 – the team that helped to convict Mr Kololo – an innocent man.’