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.


Unspeakable grief: A husband, wife and three children wiped out in Sri Lanka

Updated 42 min 9 sec ago
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Unspeakable grief: A husband, wife and three children wiped out in Sri Lanka

  • The Gomez family gather for funeral of a husband and wife and their three sons
  • They were brutally killed as they attended Easter Sunday Mass at Colombo’s St. Joseph’s Shrine

COLOMBO: The dark wooden coffins, sitting side by side, attested to one family’s unspeakable grief.
The Gomez family gathered Tuesday to say a final farewell to five loved ones — a son, a daughter-in-law and three young grandsons — brutally killed as they attended Easter Sunday Mass at Colombo’s St. Joseph’s Shrine.
“All family, all generation, is lost,” said Joseph Gomez, the family patriarch, as tears welled in his eyes. Dozens of family members and neighbors were gathered in his simple home, where the sound of hymns sung by mourners gently wafted in the background and candles flickered beside three coffins. The bodies of two grandsons have yet to be recovered.
Across Sri Lanka, Tuesday was a national day of mourning as families began to lay to rest the more than 320 victims of the bomb blasts that struck a half-dozen churches and hotels in the island nation.
For the Gomez family, the loss was unfathomable: A 33-year-old son, Berlington Joseph, the young man’s 31-year-old wife Chandrika Arumugam, and their three boys, 9-year-old Bevon, 6-year-old Clavon and baby Avon, who would have turned 1 next week. A funeral card with a photo of the family clutched in his hands, the elder Gomez wailed: “I can’t bear this on me, I can’t bear this.”
“My eldest son, my eldest son,” he sobbed as he laid bouquets of red roses and brightly colored daisies on the largest coffin. Next to it was a tiny coffin, a photo of little Avon tucked into a wooden frame nearby.
The coffins, draped with long white tassels, were then carried to a Colombo cemetery and lowered into side-by-side graves.
At St. Joseph’s Shrine, dozens of mourners gathered outside, lighting candles and praying in unison for the victims of Sunday’s blasts as heavily armed soldiers stood guard.
At St. Sebastian Church in Negombo, a funeral service was held Tuesday for victims killed there as they worshipped, led by Cardinal Malcom Ranjith. The church was heavily guarded by hundreds of army, air force and police troops, and soldiers were deployed every 15 feet along the streets of the city some 20 miles north of Colombo.
Throughout the country, people observed a three-minute silence for the victims of the near-simultaneous attacks at three churches and three luxury hotels, and three other related blasts, the deadliest violence to strike Sri Lanka in a decade.
The Sri Lankan government has blamed the attack on National Towheed Jamaar, a little-known local extremist group, and on Tuesday, the Daesh group also claimed responsibility, though it provided no proof it was involved and has made unsubstantiated claims in the past.