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US official declines to comment on Kenyans bribed by the Akashas

Baktash Akasha.
Baktash Akasha. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The US State Department official focused on drug crimes declined Tuesday to discuss the Akasha brothers' admission that they had bribed Kenyan officials in an effort to avoid facing narcotics-trafficking charges in a US court.

Kirsten Madison, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, told reporters that she could not comment in regard to a trial that is still underway.

Baktash and Ibrahim Akasha, the confessed heads of a Kenya-based drug empire, are scheduled to be sentenced on February 1 by a US federal judge in New York. They could be given life-imprisonment terms. And under a plea agreement they reached in October with US prosecutors, the Akashas are unlikely to be sentenced to less than 10 years in prison.

The brothers admitted as part of their plea deal that they obstructed justice by paying bribes to Kenyan police officers, judges and at least one prosecutor. None of those Kenyan bribe-takers have so far been identified in court proceedings. A governor, a Cabinet secretary, two High Court judges, a Rift Valley MP, prosecutors and investigators were cited for aiding the Akashas and risk prosecution in the US.

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