Nobody has claimed heroin ship, police tells court

Monday March 20 2017

The MV Al Noor is blown up by the Kenya Navy on

The MV Al Noor is blown up by the Kenya Navy on August 29, 2014. FILE PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By PHILIP MUYANGA
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A former police officer told a court on Monday that nobody claimed a vessel said to have carried heroin with a market value of Sh1.3 billion.

Ms Ruth Muinde told Mombasa Chief Magistrate Julius Nang’ea that despite giving a seizure notice for the ship, the owner never showed up to claim it.

The vessel was blown up in the high seas in August 2014 under the supervision of President Uhuru Kenyatta as a sign of the government’s tough stance against drug trafficking.

Giving evidence in a case in which 12 people — among them nine foreigners — have been charged with trafficking in heroin, Ms Muinde said the notice was issued in the presence of an advocate for the suspects and a clearing agent.

She cited a report from an official of the Kenya Maritime Authority that said the vessel was not seaworthy.

The former Senior Superintendent of Police attached to the Anti-Narcotics Unit further told the court that the ship’s captain and his deputy were interrogated. Police, however, did not call a number that they were told belonged to the owner of the vessel.

FOLLOW PROCEEDINGS

Prior to the hearing, an application to have an interpreter for an Iranian suspect was rejected by the court.

Defence lawyer Jacqueline Waihenya had applied to have Mr Pak Abdolghaffer provided with a Persian interpreter. It was, however, opposed by Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Alexander Muteti. He said since 2014 the accused, who has had legal representation throughout, never said he could not follow proceedings.

Mr Muteti told the court that the current interpreter, who speaks Urdu and Persian, stated that he had been communicating with the accused.

The court noted that the hearing began in 2014 and no application was made for such an interpreter.

TRAFFICKING NARCOTICS

Among the accused are Kenyan businessmen Mohamed Osman Ahmed and Khalid Agil and politician Maur Bwanamaka. Others are Indian and Pakistani nationals Yousuf Yaqoob, Yakoob Ibrahim, Saleem Muhammad, Bhatti Abdul Ghafour, Baksh Moula, Prabhakara Nair, Pak Abdolghaffer, Vikas and Muhammed Saleh.

The accused were allegedly, jointly with others not before court, found trafficking in narcotics by conveying in the cargo deck of the ship Amin Darya, also known as Al Noor, 377.2 kilogrammes of creamish granular heroin, 33,200 litres of liquid heroin and 2,400 litres of diesel mixed with heroin.

They are alleged to have committed the offence on diverse dates between July 2 and 18, 2014, at Kilindini port’s berth number 8 in Mombasa County.
Hearing continues.