Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Kenya to destroy largest cocaine haul in Africa


Nairobi, March 21 - Kenya's largest cocaine haul willbe destroyed later this week according to internationally acceptedmethods, a Nairobi court ruled here Tuesday.

The largest drugs ever seized in Africa weighing 1,141 kg and worth about 90 million U.S. dollars were confiscated in December 2004 in the coastal resort town of Malindi.

The haul, which has attracted national and international interest, will be set on fire in the presence of the suspects facing drug trafficking charges, the court said.

Nairobi Chief Magistrate Aggrey Muchelule set the destruction of the drugs for Friday following an application by the director of public prosecutions Keriako Tobiko.

Tobiko has said police investigations into the trafficking operation were shoddy, and the alleged ringleaders were still at large.

The prosecutor argued the drug haul posed national security threat.

In his ruling, the chief magistrate said the cocaine ought to have been destroyed immediately after it was seized and only a sample could have been spared as exhibit for trial.

"It is unfortunate that the application was made this late. It ought to have been made immediately, it shouldn't have waited for this long," Magistrate Muchelule ruled.

"I direct that necessary arrangements be made for destruction in accordance with international practice and standards," he added.

The magistrate said the court will on Friday mention the case in which six suspects are charged in connection with trafficking of the drug before proceeding to where the drugs are being kept under armed guard.

Early this year, Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua said the east African nation had invited the UN anti-drugs agency to oversee the destruction, hoping to allay fears that the drugs had been sold secretly.


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