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Drugs offence lands foreigner in court

AMERICAN citizen Lonie Rayford (65) appeared before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam yesterday charged with trafficking in a substantial amount of heroin. Rayford, a businessman residing at Michigan, is alleged to have been found with 2.188 kg of the illicit narcotic drug.

Though the value of the drugs was not indicated, such huge consignment could be valued at over 1bn/-.

Before Senior Resident Magistrate Wanjah Hamza, the accused person was not allowed to enter plea to the charge because the lower court lacked jurisdiction to entertain his case.

The magistrate denied bail to the accused under the circumstances and directed him to go to the High Court for bail consideration if he would so wish.

Magistrate Hamza adjourned the case to July 19, this year, for mention as investigations into the matter, according to the prosecution, have not been completed.

State Attorney Constantine Kakula, for the prosecution, told the court that the accused person committed the offence on July 4, this year, at Julius Nyerere International Airport in Ilala District in Dar es Salaam City. According to the prosecution, Rayford trafficked in the narcotic drugs, weighing 2.188 kg.

It is alleged that the police officers had arrested the accused as he was on the way to leave the country. Last year, the High Court in Dar es Salaam sentenced two foreigners to 22 years imprisonment and pay 3.7bn/- fine for dealing in 31 packets containing 31,000 grammes of heroin, which are illicit narcotic drugs.

They were Diaka Brama Kaba, a resident of Guinea and Abunakar Ndjane, a Liberian. Judge Winfrida Koroso convicted them of the offence after having been satisfied by evidence tendered by 11 prosecution witnesses.

The judge ordered the confiscation of the drugs by government authorities and directed the same to be destroyed immediately. She directed the sentences to run co-current in order to serve a lesson to any person, who would be tempted to commit similar offences.

During the trial, the prosecution had also tendered 14 documentary exhibits to prove the charge against the accused persons.

On the other hand, the defence side had summoned two witnesses, the accused persons themselves to disprove the charges and had tendered two exhibits.

The two foreigners were arrested at the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere International Airport on June 23, 2010 by the Anti-Drugs Unit with two bags containing the illicit narcotic drugs.

They were coming from South Africa aboard South Africa Airway. Initially, the two accused persons had refused to be searched on grounds that they were diplomats, thus enjoyed immunity of being searched.

Under Article 36 (2) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations Act, 1961, personal diplomatic baggage is exempted from inspection by the receiving state.

This is extended to cover diplomatic boxes, which are transported from or to the diplomatic premises. But the receiving state can conduct inspection of the said baggage or boxes if it is suspected that they contain prohibited items at the state’s own risk.

However, the officers from the Unit, acting on a tip-off from good Samaritans, forced the search to be conducted and the two were found in possession of the drugs in question.

It was further discovered that the two were not diplomats, thus could not enjoy any kind of immunity.

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Author: FAUSTINE KAPAMA

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