Mombasa trader appeals harsh ruling for heroin trafficking

Monday December 31 2018

Mr Clement Serge Bristol and Mr Ahmed Said Bakari

Mr Clement Serge Bristol and Mr Ahmed Said Bakari in a Mombasa court on October 30, 2018 over the trafficking of heroin worth Sh28.8million. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

BRIAN OCHARO
By BRIAN OCHARO
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A Mombasa businessman has appealed a 20- year jail term handed last October after he was found guilty of trafficking heroin worth about Sh30 million.

Ahmed Said Bakar, who argues that the court jailed him on mere suspicion and that there was no evidence, wants the conviction and sentence set aside.

THE CHARGES

Chief Magistrate Julius Nang’ea found the trader guilty of trafficking drugs destined for Madagascar.

The businessman faced two counts for allegedly committing the offence on April 9, 2015 at the Kilifi Boat Yard in Mnarani area.

He was accused of trafficking 2028 grams of heroin worth Sh6 million in a vehicle, concealed in the false top and bottoms of a black suitcase.

He was also charged with trafficking by conveying 7,600 grams of heroin, valued at Sh22.8 million and wrapped in 10 polythene bags, concealed under the water tank of a yacht christened Baby Iris.

In the ruling in October, Mr Nang'ea sentenced him to 20 years in jail and ordered him to pay a fine of Sh8 million.

THE APPEAL

In his court papers, the businessman argues that the magistrate erred in law and in fact in several matter.

"The magistrate erred ... in making findings not supported by evidence, particularly with regard to the possession of the box in which drugs were allegedly found."

Mr Bakari adds that Mr Nang'ea also made a mistake in finding that he must have known what was in the suitcase and in Baby Iris, and in shifting the burden of proof to him.

He also says the magistrate did not interrogate the finding of drugs in the vessel.

BOND

The documents further say that "the magistrate erred ... in finding that the appellant was guilty simply because of his association with Bilali Kimala Ndechumia, who was the owner of the vessel".

The court ruled that owing to the appellant’s closeness to the owner and since he was its caretaker, he must have known of the presence of the drugs.

Mr Bakari further says, "The court [also erred] in proceeding with a trial and to a conviction on a charge that was materially defective."

He added that the sentence was excessive and that the court rejected the weight of evidence given to exonerate him, with the clear intention of placing guilt on him.

Before Justice Njoki Mwangi, the businessman said he wants to be released on bond pending the determination of his appeal.

DRUGS MENACE

The trader was sentenced alongside Sychellois Clement Serge Bristol, who was handed 10 years in prison and fined Sh5 million. He will be sent back to his country when the term ends.

While issuing the ruling, Mr Nang’ea noted that the drugs menace at the Coast needs to be dealt with through the handing harsh sentence to offenders.

“I have heard the submission by the suspects that they have no criminal records. Nevertheless, the charges are very serious and involve trafficking of narcotic drugs worth millions of shillings," he said.

"Deterrent sentences are therefore necessary to help curb the illicit drug menace in this region."

The vessel that the Kenya Navy seized at the Mombasa port was destroyed at the Delta 16 in the Indian Ocean on August 14, 2015 following orders by President Uhuru Kenyatta.