Sunday, August 12, 2012

Venezuela embassy linked to drugs

A news photographer walks on July 27, 2012 near the main entrance the Venezuelan embassy residence in a Nairobi suburb. Venezuela's acting ambassador, Olga Fonseca, was found strangled at her Nairobi home, Kenyan police said. Photo/AFP

A news photographer walks on July 27, 2012 near the main entrance the Venezuelan embassy residence in a Nairobi suburb. Venezuela's acting ambassador, Olga Fonseca, was found strangled at her Nairobi home, Kenyan police said. Photo/AFP 

By ANGIRA ZADOCK zangira@ke.nationmedia.com

Venezuelan ambassador to Kenya was strangled after she stumbled upon a cocaine smuggling ring, newspapers and bloggers claim.

Ambassador Olga Fonseca, who was murdered only a few days after taking office, is alleged to have discovered that officials were smuggling drugs in diplomatic pouches from Caracas, the Venezuelan capital.

Local dailies in Venezuela reported last week that the ministry was likely to be a hub for trafficking narcotics internationally in the pouches that are immune to inspection, search and seizure under the laws of international diplomacy.

The papers also speculated that Ms Fonseca’s could have been killed because of orders she issued immediately upon assuming her new post that all diplomatic pouches from Caracas be delivered to her unopened and with the official diplomatic seals intact.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (April 2011), Venezuela is the most prominent country of origin for direct cocaine shipments to Europe, with the drug coming mainly from Colombia.

It is estimated that over 200 tonnes of the drug are smuggled through Venezuela per year.

However, Venezuelan Interior and Justice Minister Tareck Zaidam El Aissami Maddah last week dismissed the allegations and maintained that Ms Fonseca’s murder had nothing to do with drug trafficking.

He also dismissed reports that his government had reached out to the Kenyan government quietly, seeking ways of settling the matter.

The diplomatic pouches are also suspected to be used in laundering hard currency out of Venezuela.

President Hugo Chavez’s regime has been accused of funding political groups in countries that do not share his radical Marxist revolutionary ideas.

President Chavez has not commented on the diplomatic scandal in Nairobi.

Ms Fonseca, who was murdered only 12 days after assuming her new post in Nairobi, had replaced former Ambassador Gerardo Silva, who fled Kenya last March after he was accused of sexually harassing three male Kenyan employees.

Meanwhile, the Kenya Police, who have sought the assistance of the Interpol, have intensified the search for the another suspect in the murder, Dr Muhammed Hassan.

All embassy workers who had been arrested in connection with the murder have been released and have resumed work.

However, their phones were confiscated by detectives and they report to Gigiri Police Station every day.

advertisement