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Drug trafficking suspect Ali Punjani extends his stay in India

Mombasa tycoon Ali Punjani
Mombasa tycoon Ali Punjani who is wanted by police over drug trafficking. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Mombasa tycoon Ali Punjani, who is being sought by police over drug trafficking, has extended his stay in India.

Mr Punjani was admitted to Asian Heart Institute in India where he underwent open-heart surgery early this month, according to his personal assistant. He was expected back in the country Monday at 10.20am aboard a Kenya Airways flight but he did not check in.

A source in India told Nation that Mr Punjani has extended his stay in the country for five more days.

Mombasa police had said upon his arrival, Mr Punjani will be arrested for interrogation.

“We will arrest him the minute he gets into the country. We want him to come and explain to us where he got all his wealth. We got a lot of cheques, title deeds and more than Sh63,000 from his house during our crackdown,” said outgoing Mombasa police boss Johnston Ipara.

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Mr Ipara, who has since been transferred to Uasin Gishu, had maintained that the businessman remains a drug trafficking suspect as they believe he is directly or indirectly involved in the narcotics trade.

According to his personal assistant Kakawat Pankaj, the tycoon was referred to India after a check-up at The Heart Lung Diagnostic Centre in Mombasa.

"The above patient (Mr Punjani) was admitted on July 29, 2019 following a heart attack/acute coronary syndrome. An angiogram done showed significant CAD with blocked coronary arteries.

"This is not amenable with angioplasty and he has been advised to undergo coronary artery bypass grafting urgently. This has been arranged at the Asian Heart Institute for next week," a letter signed by Dr N. Chaudhry at the centre reads.

Mr Punjani was last month mentioned in a New York court by Indian national Vijaygiri Goswami, who has been charged in the foreign country alongside Baktash Akasha and Ibrahim Akasha over drugs trafficking.

In his allegations before the New York court, Mr Goswami described Mr Punjani as a rival drug lord of the Akasha in Mombasa.

Mr Punjani’s name first came to the limelight when he was mentioned in Parliament as a drug suspect by the late Interior minister George Saitoti in 2010 and was being probed over the same.

He was mentioned alongside four politicians in a dossier from the American Embassy to the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission.

In 2017, Mr Punjani was charged in a Mombasa court with fighting in public with the sons of Akasha.

The Mombasa court heard that Mr Punjani, jointly with others not before court, took part in a fight at Rahian Bar and Restaurant. According to the prosecution, the offence was committed on January 1.

Mr Punjani was released on a Sh50,000 bond with a surety of similar amount. The case is still in court.

During the fight, police reports indicated that the Akashas beat up one of Mr Punjani’s men at the club.

The incident left man with “a very bad head injury” and was in a coma for three or four days, according to court reports.

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