A Mombasa businessman has appealed a 20-year jail term handed down on him for being in illegal possession of ivory valued at Sh44 million.
Feisal Mohamed Ali wants the conviction set aside.
Through his lawyer Gikandi Ngibuni, Ali stated the court erred because, he said, it convicted him on the basis of mere suspicion.
“In other words, the appellant was made the sacrificial lamb so as to appease the public,” said Mr Ngibuini in the appeal at the High Court in Mombasa.
About two weeks ago, Shanzu Principal Magistrate Diana Mochache sentenced Ali in addition to a Sh20 million fine.
She however acquitted him on the charge of dealing in ivory without a licence.
Mr Ngibuni argues that the Magistrate’s Court erred in law and fact, saying the judgment lacks logic, reason or rhyme as there was no consistency in the manner the court handled what it described as “puzzles” in the prosecution’s case.
He said that the sentence and fine imposed were illegal and that fine must have a default clause for a prison term.
“Sentencing imposed was against the weight of evidence that has been presented before the court of law,” said Mr Ngibuini.
He claimed that the magistrate dismissed strong mitigating circumstances and went ahead to make her own view, which showed that the court was interested in pleasing the political class as opposed to delivering justice.
Mr Ngibuini faults the magistrate for delivering the judgment at Kenya Wildlife Services Marine Park compound yet the agency was the complainant, instead of Shanzu Law Courts, without any involvement of the parties.
Mr Abdul Halim Sadiq, Mr Ghalib Sadiq Kara, Mr Praverz Mohamed and Mr Abdulmajeed Ibrahim, who had been charged alongside Ali, were acquitted for lack of evidence.
In her judgment, Ms Mochache said a combination of a chain of events pointed to Ali as the owner of the ivory.
“I am satisfied the prosecution adduced all circumstantial evidence against the accused person. This court finds Feisal Mohamed Ali guilty of the offence of being in possession of wildlife trophies and convicts him accordingly,” ruled Ms Mochache.
In sentencing Ali, the magistrate noted that poaching had become a menace and an international concern.