The presence or absence of a vessel suspected to have ferried narcotic drugs does not change the facts of a case in which 12 people have been charged with trafficking, a Mombasa court heard Thursday.
Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecution, Alexander Muteti, said that even though the vessel carrying heroin worth Sh1.3 billion was destroyed, the move was made in the spirit of the law.
The ship was blown up in the high seas on August 2014, under the supervision of President Uhuru Kenyatta, as a sign of the government’s tough stance against drug trafficking.
Mr Muteti told Mombasa chief magistrate Julius Nang’ea that notice of seizure against the vessel having been issued, no one went to claim it.
“There was no reason to keep it after it had been produced, no one has come to say this is my ship; the court viewed it and the drugs,” said Mr Muteti today.
The accused are Kenyans Mohamed Osman Ahmed, Khalid Agil and politician Maur Bwanamaka.
Others are Indian and Pakistani foreigners including Yousuf Yaqoob, Yakoob Ibrahim, Saleem Muhammad, Bhatti Abdul Ghafour, Baksh Moula, Prabhakara Nair, Pak Abdolghaffer, Vikas and Muhammed Saleh.
The State prosecutor wants the court to put the accused on their defence, saying the case against them is watertight.
Mr Muteti further submitted that the vessel had no flag hence providing a basis for Kenyan security agents to board it, adding that it had established there was a consignment of drugs aboard the vessel.
“Prosecution witness five will lead you to see the conmanship involved in drugs, there was indication they were carrying white cement, it was a camouflage of the drugs being carried,” said Mr Muteti.
He said the vessel was sighted within the country’s exclusive economic zones and that the claim of right of innocent passage was an afterthought.
However, defence lawyer Jared Magolo said the prosecution has not made any case to warrant the accused to be put on their defence.
Mr Magolo, who is representing one of the accused, said there is no valid charge before court and that even if there was one, no evidence is before court.
Through a preliminary objection filed in court, the accused argue that under international law, the court is prohibited from exercising criminal jurisdiction over crimes committed in the territory of another state or by citizens of that state.
He further argued that the court does not have jurisdiction to hear the matter since the vessel alleged to have carried the drugs was registered in Iran and was at all time during the proceedings flying the Iranian flag.
The accused, allegedly jointly with others not before court, were found in the cargo deck of ship Amin Darya - also known as Al Noor - with 377.2 kilogrammes of granular heroin, 33,200 litres of liquid heroin and 2400 litres of diesel mixed with heroin.
The offence is alleged to have been committed on diverse dates between July 2 and 18, 2014 at Kilindini port berth number 8 in Mombasa County.
The case has been fixed for further defence hearing on November 9.