DPP on the spot over stalled Sh576m ivory case in Mombasa

Some of the suspects charged with trafficking 3,127kgs of ivory when they appeared in court in Mombasa in 2015. ODPP has come under sharp criticism for allegedly frustrating the conclusion of the case. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The case has been handled by more than three magistrates since it was first brought to court in 2015.
  • It is evidently not likely to be concluded in the near future since the prosecution is in most cases not ready to proceed with the matter.
  • The prosecution is also yet to bring evidence from Thailand that they are seeking to rely on in the case.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) has come under sharp criticism for allegedly frustrating the proceedings of a Sh576 million ivory case that has dragged in court for four years.

The case against a Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) employee and seven businessmen has stagnated in a Mombasa court despite attempts by three magistrates who have handled the case to have it concluded.

THREE MAGISTRATES

The case that has been handled by more than three magistrates since it was first brought to court in 2015 is evidently not likely to be concluded in the near future since the prosecution is in most cases not ready to proceed with the matter.

The ivory trafficking case was scheduled for a two-day hearing but it stalled again as the prosecutor who was called to handle it said the case was complicated and hence needed more time to familiarise himself with the file.

The case first stalled when Principal Prosecution Counsel Jami Yamina was transferred to another station early this year and, since then, the hearing has literally stopped.

FRUSTRATED

Mr Edgar Mulamula, who said he had just been transferred to Mombasa, informed the court he needed a whole month to study the file and understand the case.

“I have just arrived in Mombasa, I have been told the case is complicated hence I need time to go through the file before I start prosecuting the matter,” Mr Mulamula told Chief Magistrate Evans Makori.

Tired with the manner in which the prosecution has been handling the case, Mr Makori granted the application by the new prosecutor, saying he had tried his best to conclude the case but the prosecution has frustrated his efforts.

All indications were clearly that the case would not proceed when by 10am, no prosecutor had arrived in the courtroom to guide the three witnesses who were ready to give their testimony.

ADJOURN

The court was forced to adjourn for about 45 minutes and when the magistrate resumed, Mr Mulamula applied for an adjournment.

Defence counsel led by lawyer Gikandi Ngibuini opposed the adjournment.

With nine witnesses to go, the case is likely to take longer than expected as Mr Makori, who has been handling the matter, might not conclude the hearing since he has been elevated to a High Court judge and will be sworn in any time.

The trial that started back in 2015 has also stalled numerous times due to failure by the prosecution to produce witnesses.

The State had also promised to bring in expert witnesses from Thailand and Singapore but that is yet to happen, with a likelihood that the trial might be concluded without the foreign witnesses’ testimony.

THAI EVIDENCE

The prosecution is also yet to bring evidence from Thailand that they are seeking to rely on in the case.

The expert witnesses include wildlife and ivory analyst and officers who seized the 3,127kgs of ivory four years ago in Thailand but the State has been unable to receive any clear information from the Thai government.

In the case, businessman Abdulrahman Mahmoud and his two sons Sheikh Mohammed and Mahamoud Abdulrahman have been charged with three counts of trafficking wildlife trophies to Thailand and Singapore.

Other suspects are KRA employee Lucy Kahoto, Jacob Lithare, Samuel Mundia, Salim Mohammed Juma and Abbasi Issa Rashid.

They are also accused of engaging in organised crime and exporting restricted goods against the provisions of the East African Community Customs Management Act.

The case will be heard on September 22.

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