What you need to know:
- Mr Feisal Mohamed plans to appeal against the sentence.
- The magistrate said the chain of events considered as a whole pointed to Mr Ali as the owner of the ivory that was recovered at Fuji Motors..
- In his mitigation, Mr Ali said he had not received even "a single cent" from the ivory and cannot be said to have benefited in the transaction.
Mombasa businessman Feisal Mohamed Ali was on Friday sentenced to 20 years in prison after he was found guilty of being in possession of illegal ivory valued at Sh44 million.
In addition, Mr Ali, 47, was fined Sh20 million by Shanzu Principal Magistrate Diana Mochache.
Abdul Halim Sadiq, Ghalib Sadiq Kara, Praverz Noor Mohamed and Abdulmajeed Ibrahim, all of whom had been charged alongside Mr Ali, were acquitted for lack of evidence.
Ms Mochache had acquitted the accused on the second count of dealing in ivory without a licence.
Through his lawyers Michael Oloo, Gikandi Ngibuini, Jared Magolo and Pascal Nabwana, Mr Ali said he would appeal against the sentence.
The magistrate said the chain of events considered as a whole pointed to Mr Ali as the owner of the ivory that was recovered at Fuji Motors.
“I am satisfied the prosecution adduced all circumstantial evidence available against the accused person; this court finds Feisal Mohamed Ali guilty of the offence of being in possession of wildlife trophies and convicts him accordingly,” said Ms Mochache.
In sentencing Mr Ali, the magistrate noted that poaching had become a menace to the country and is an international concern.
Ms Mochache said the rate at which elephants are being killed in Kenya is worrying and that if something if not done the future generations will have no elephants to look at.
The magistrate said one does not have to wear a genuine elephant ornament in order to make a statement, saying counterfeits are equally attractive and would serve the same purpose.
“In Kenya, all we have is human resource and animals; farming is no longer a reliable source of income and contributor to the economy; so much do we take pride in our elephants that we have alongside others tagged them as the famous five,” said Ms Mochache.
The magistrate said in order to bring to an end the mass massacre of elephants the courts must keep away those who encourage the heinous crimes by encouraging the trade and that the offence committed by Feisal is serious.
NO 'SINGLE CENT'
In his mitigation, Mr Ali said he had not received even "a single cent" from the ivory and cannot be said to have benefited in the transaction.
Through Mr Gikandi, the accused told the court that he had never been convicted of any offence and that he is taking care of his elderly mother and three sisters.
“I agree conservation of wildlife is important. The great principle in life when crimes are committed is to correct, rehabilitate and punish. I urge the court to weigh the principle on the scale of justice,” said Mr Gikandi.
Senior assistant director of public prosecutions Alexander Muteti had told the court that the offence called for a stringent sentence.
Before the judgment was issued, the accused had wanted the court to disqualify itself, an application rejected by court.
Mr Ali had been charged with being in possession of 314 pieces of ivory weighing 2,152 kilograms.
He committed the offence on June 5, 2014 at the business premises of Fuji Motors East Africa Ltd, located on Tom Mboya Avenue, Tudor Estate, Mombasa.
During the hearing, the prosecution called 23 witnesses, among them police officers and Kenya Wildlife Service personnel.
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has commended the conviction and sentencing of Mr Ali.
KWS corporate communication manager Paul Udoto said the decision is a testimony of the country’s commitment to dealing firmly with all forms of transnational organised wildlife crime.
Mr Udoto said the stringent penalty for such an offence is part of the country’s heightened legislative action to combat poaching and trafficking in wildlife trophies.
“The case, which is Kenya’s largest ivory trafficking case, is a result of [a] well-coordinated partnership bringing together various government agencies and international partners,” said Mr Udoto.
He added that the KWS has scaled up its collective law enforcement efforts to ensure that wildlife crimes are treated as serious offences.
The KWS noted that the judgment comes barely two months before the 17th Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, scheduled for September.
Mr Udoto said Kenya and 28 other African nations, under the African Elephant Coalition framework, are expected to make a strong case at the conference for protection of the African elephant.
(Editing by Joel Muinde)