A Mombasa court was on Thursday told how a man charged with being in possession of ivory worth Sh44 million used a closed canter to transport the illegal cargo from a house in Tudor.
Mr Abdul Halim Abbas, a witness, said he received a phone call from the accused, Feisal Mohammed Ali, asking him to go and help Mr Ali with a vehicle to relocate household items in Tudor.
He said he could not make time to help Mr Ali transport his items since he was busy elsewhere doing another job.
“Since I was held up elsewhere, I contacted another driver known as Kassim Hassan to help him,” he told Principal Magistrate Diana Mochache at the KWS headquarters Marine Park, where the case is being heard.
After a few minutes, he said he received a phone call from Mr Ali informing him he had met with Mr Hassan, who was going to help him relocate the items, which he descried as "domestic stuff’".
He said he had known the accused before, having transported sugar and rice for him.
“I had known him for some time since he had given me orders to help him transport sugar and rice from Shimanzi to Bondeni in Mombasa County; I knew him as a businessman,” said the witness.
Mr Hassan told the court that when he arrived in Sparki, near a petrol station, he saw Mr Ali, who was in a black car with a Tanzanian registration number.
“We exchanged words briefly, but he declined to use my vehicle since it had an open body. He gave me Sh300 and we left,” Mr Hassan, who was a witness, told the court.
DECLINED TO USE
About 20 minutes later, Mr Hassan called Mr Abbas informing him that Mr Ali had declined to use his car saying it could not appropriately transport the items since it was an open canter.
The court was told that the accused turned down two open canters that he had requested to ferry the items he had claimed were household items.
Mr Ali and four others are accused of being found in possession of 2,152 kilograms of ivory on June 5 in Tudor, Mombasa.
The other suspects are Abdul Halim Sadiq, Ghalib Sadiq Kara, Praverz Noor Mohamed, and Abdulmajeed Ibrahim.
They have denied the charges.
Another witness, Abdul Razak Abdalla, whose vehicle is claimed to have been used in the alleged transportation of the trophies, told the court that he had known the accused for a couple of months since they had met at the Baluchi Mosque.
“I frequently met with the accused at the mosque, I trusted him and that is why I agreed to give him my vehicle at a fee of Sh4,000 per day,” he said.
Mr Abdalla said the accused approached him and asked him to hire his vehicle, which he said he was going to use to ferry table clothes from a house in Tudor.
DISAPPEARED FROM MOSQUE
“He hired the vehicle for two days but overstayed with it for four days; during that period, however, he called assuring me that the vehicle was in a secure place,” he told the court.
Mr Abdalla said after the accused had used his vehicle, he disappeared and stopped going to the mosque where they had met.
“I only saw the accused in the news headlines that he had been arrested with ivory worth millions of shillings. I feared for my life too and regretted why I had given him the vehicle. I knew the police will come after me,” he told the court.
Mr Abdalla was arrested but was later released. He claimed continued detention of his motor vehicle has made him a poor man.
The accused’s lawyers, Michael Oloo, Jared Magolo, Pascal Nabwana, Moses Kurgat and Gikandi Ngibuini, cross-examined the witnesses.
Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Alexander Muteti told the court that they would be seeking the forfeiture of the materials involved in the case in the event of conviction.
Mr Muteti added they would be making further requests that the tusks be released to the Kenya Wildlife Service for disposal.
The hearing continues on Friday and three witnesses are expected to testify.