Reuters International

By Joseph Akwiri

NAIROBI (Reuters) - A Kenyan man was sentenced to death on Friday for killing a Muslim cleric who had campaigned against radical interpretations of Islam.

Sudi Mohamed Sudi, 44, was convicted of shooting dead Mohammed Idris in 2014 in the port city of Mombasa, a popular tourist destination which officials say has also become a recruiting ground for ultra-hardline preachers.

Kenya has suffered a spate of Islamist attacks in the past two years, usually claimed by the al Qaeda-aligned Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab.

The cleric, chairman of the moderate Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK), was killed near a mosque on June 10, 2014.

Sudi was arrested a day later and charged with the murder, which he denied. "The prosecution has provided substantial evidence to prove this charge," judge Martin Muya said.

During the trial in Mombasa, police witnesses said they had recovered a hand grenade, a pistol, and explosive material from Sudi.

A member of Sudi's family told Reuters he would appeal against the ruling. Sudi's lawyer, Chacha Mwita, said he would not be executed as Kenya had not carried out a death sentence in decades.

Rights groups say Kenya has not carried out an execution since 1987, leaving some convicts on death row while others have had their sentences commuted to life in prison.

Sudi still faces a separate charge of selling videos promoting extremist ideas.

(Editing by Elias Biryabarema and Andrew Heavens)

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