Kenya drops cocaine smuggling charges against British aristocrat

In this file photo taken on November 11, 2016 British national Jack Marrian (R), who faces charges of trafficking 100 kilos of cocaine from Brazil to the port of Mombasa, watches as a slab of cocaine is presented as evidence at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headquarters, Nairobi. (AFP)
Updated 14 March 2019
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Kenya drops cocaine smuggling charges against British aristocrat

  • One hundred kilos of cocaine, said to be worth around $6 million, were seized from a shipping container owned by sugar trader Jack Marrian

NAIROBI: Kenya’s High Court acquitted a British aristocrat on Thursday of smuggling cocaine in a shipment of sugar, ending a high-profile case that captured public interest in how the justice system would treat the scion of a prominent colonial-era family.
One hundred kilos of cocaine, said to be worth around $6 million, were seized from a shipping container owned by sugar trader Jack Marrian in the Kenyan port of Mombasa in July 2016. Marrian’s colleague Roy Mwanthi was also charged.
Marrian, grandson of a Scottish earl, has always maintained that they were framed. The prosecution applied to terminate the case for lack of evidence, but six weeks ago a magistrate in a lower court refused to drop the charges.
“The court was in essence directing a prosecution against accused persons against the wish of the prosecution, without a complainant and a prosecutor,” High Court Judge Luka Kimaru wrote in Thursday’s ruling dismissing the case.
“Hugely relieved that after so long the prosecution has had the courage to do the right thing,” Marrian told Reuters via a message on WhatsApp. The case against Mwanthi was also dropped.
During the trial the defense team presented a letter from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) stating that Marrian, 33, could have had no knowledge that the drugs were stashed in a shipment which was en route from Brazil to Uganda.
The grandson of the sixth Earl of Cawdor, Marrian grew up in Kenya, where his grandfather was a minister in the colonial government ahead of independence in 1963.
Mombasa is a favored port of entry for drug traffickers in east Africa, where the smuggling of cocaine, heroin, cannabis and amphetamine-type stimulants is on the rise, according to the United Nations.
Corruption among law enforcement and customs officials make the region a convenient transit point for drug trafficking to the rest of the continent, Europe, and north America.


Swiss parliament backs expelling militants to states that use torture

Updated 19 March 2019
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Swiss parliament backs expelling militants to states that use torture

  • Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told a debate in parliament that the government sympathized with proponents of the measure but its hands were tied
  • One of the convicted militants is a wheelchair-bound man found guilty in 2016 of planning terrorist attacks and helping Daesh operatives enter Switzerland

ZURICH: Switzerland’s parliament approved allowing convicted militants to be sent home to countries where they could face torture, leaving the government to decide how to implement the motion without breaking international law.
The Swiss constitution bans expelling people to countries where they might be subject to torture. But parlimament’s upper house on Tuesday narrowly adopted a motion allowing exceptions for foreign militants, as the Swiss lower house had done.
The motion stems from discontent among lawmakers over the ability of Iraqi militants convicted in Swiss courts of aiding Daesh to avoid being sent home because of the ban on exposing people to torture or other inhumane treatment.
Conservative critics say the ban has cost taxpayer money to care for convicted militants and angered citizens who say Switzerland should not have to host such people on its soil.
Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told a debate in parliament that the government sympathized with proponents of the measure but its hands were tied.
“The security of the Swiss population has top priority but we also have to adhere to the limits of the rule of law.”
One of the convicted militants is a wheelchair-bound man found guilty in 2016 of planning terrorist attacks and helping Daesh operatives enter Switzerland. Freed from prison, he now lives in a transit center for asylum seekers and is fighting extradition.
Switzerland said this month it would not help bring home its own stranded citizens who had joined extremist forces in Syria and Iraq, insisting national security was paramount.
Switzerland is a signatory to the United Nations’ 1984 Convention against Torture, which bars expulsions of people to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing they would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
Iraq is also a party to the convention, but lacks laws or guidelines providing for judicial action when defendants allege torture or mistreatment, Human Rights Watch said in a report last year. It said torture was rampant in Iraq’s justice system.