Court slams Uhuru order to destroy Sh1.3bn heroin ship
PRESIDENT Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive to destroy the ship seized with narcotics worth Sh1.3 billion despite a court order is a big blow to the rule of law, a Mombasa court has ruled.
A court hearing the drug trial against 12 foreign suspects and a Kenyan heard that the President issued the directive despite a High Court order barring the destruction of the ship.
Mombasa chief magistrate Maxwell Gicheru yesterday said he had heard from both the defence and through the press of the vessel’s destruction despite the ongoing trial.
Last Friday, the President aboard a military helicopter oversaw the destruction of the ship about 30 nautical miles off the Mombasa coastal strip.
Yesterday, Defence lawyers Cliff Ombeta, Jared Magolo and Pascal Nabwana challenged the Director of Public Prosecutions officers to produce evidence of the exhibits to be used in the trial.
Ombeta said the trial would be difficult to proceed without the court accessing the physical exhibits including the AL Noor and the 377kg heroine found hidden inside the ship.
But Gicheru in his ruling said that though the ship and the exhibits were destroyed, the prosecution still have evidence to proceed with. “The anti-narcotics act provides for the drugs to be destroyed by incarceration and any other method,” Gicheru said.
Ombeta wanted DPP Keriako Tobiko to explain why the ship was destroyed despite an order issued by the court not to destroy it. He told the court that the DPP should have to explain why one of the main exhibits in the case was destroyed and the case had not been determined.
“The ship being exhibit one, it would have helped us in cross examining the witnesses and making sure that everyone gets justice,” Ombeta said.
He said the DPP’S office misled the court by saying that no one had claimed ownership of the ship, yet he had already made an oral application for the release of the ship to the owner.
However, state lawyer Nicholas Mutuku said: “The prosecution has no obligation to give any explanations since its an independent body and also takes instructions from its bosses.”
Mutuku said that whoever is affected by the destruction should make a complaint to the police for investigations to be conducted. He said the DPP is not part of the executive and should not be held responsible for all that happened.