Accused Kenyan in Philippine demands return of US$3,700
THE 24-year-old Kenyan national, who is accused of bringing three kilos of drugs to Cebu, is asking the court to order her captors to return the money they had seized from her.
In a motion filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 27, Rico Amores, counsel of Kenyan Asha Atieno Ogutu, said his client had US$3,700 and 2,000 Qatari riyal when she was arrested by operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at the Mactan Cebu International Airport last Sept. 29.
NBI 7 assistant regional chief Lauro Reyes denied that his men took the sum from Ogutu.
“That’s a big lie,” he said, adding that NBI only found US$700 on Ogutu.
He said this was recorded in the inventory sheet that is part of the case records pertaining to the Kenyan national.
Earlier newspaper reports, however, said Ogutu’s wallet was empty.
Amores said in the motion that Ogutu is a “victim” and is being accused of a crime in a foreign country where she cannot access her money.
Amores asked why his client’s arresting officers took her money, even though it was not part of the elements of the crime she allegedly committed.
“Unless there was a magician there who made the money disappear before we were able to search her luggage, ($700 US) was the only money there,” Reyes said.
The amount will be turned over to the court when the prosecution presents it, he added.
He said the search on Ogutu’s luggage was witnessed by agents of the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (Pdea).
“There were also members of the press who even signed the inventory as witnesses,” he said.
Amores said Ogutu, who claimed to be a tourist visiting Cebu, had brought the money to help her travel around and seek business opportunities here.
Oguto, a native of Nairobi, Kenya, had denied knowledge of the three packs of what is believed to be shabu, placed in the false bottom of her trolley bag.
She said she was instructed by an associate of her employer to come to Cebu. A man, whom she called Joshua, gave her the bag, she said.
Transporting drugs into the Philippines is a capital offense under Section 5 of Republic Act 9165. It carries the penalty of “life imprisonment to death” and a fine of between P500,000 and P10 million “regardless of the quantity and purity” (of the drugs) involved.
Amores, in an earlier interview, said he expects the court to hear his motion next Friday.
RTC Branch 27 Judge Toribio Quiwag had decided to conduct a marathon hearing on Ogutu’s case, from November to December this year.