Wednesday, June 28, 2006

KENYAN TRAFFICKER GETS 30 YEARS!

Five defendents were acquitted after the 18-month trial. A Kenyan man has been sentenced to 30 years in jail in the capital, Nairobi, for his part in one of Africa's biggest cocaine trafficking operations. A court in Nairobi found David Mugo Kiragu guilty. Five other suspects, including two Italians, were acquitted.

The 18-month trial has been marred by controversy with allegations of corruption and tampering of evidence. It followed the seizure by Kenyan authorities of 1.1 metric tons of cocaine worth more than $88m in 2004. Kenya is still seeking the extradition of a man, Mr Kiragu's brother, they believe to be the prime suspect who is serving a jail term in the Netherlands.

Traffickers' drug haven

The drug haul was destroyed in a very public display back in February to dispel fears that it had been sold. More than 950 sachets of cocaine were burnt in front of journalists, diplomats, members of the judiciary and the suspects arrested for trafficking the shipments. "This country is now described as a major centre for drug trafficking and this has created a bad image and name for residents of this country," Chief Magistrate Aggrey Muchelule said when pronouncing sentence, AFP news agency reports.

The BBC's Karen Allen in Nairobi says poverty, corruption and geography all conspire to make Kenya an attractive transit and storage point for drugs.

BBC NEWS REPORT

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