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Appeal upholds 20-year sentence for drug lord

THE Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeal by a drug baron, Khamis Bakari, who was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment sentence and pay over 130m/- for trafficking in 75 pellets of Heroin Hydrochloride, which are narcotic drugs, weighing 964.24 grammes.

Justices Stella Mugasha, Gerald Ndika and Ignas Kitusi ruled against Bakari, the appellant, after holding that his appeal against findings of the High Court which had conducted the trial in the first instance lacked merits.

"We conclude that the appeal lacks merit in its entirety. Consequently, we uphold the appellant's conviction and the sentence imposed on him. The appeal stands dismissed," they declared. During hearing, the appellant complained, among others, that the case against him was not proved to the hilt.

In their judgment delivered recently, however, the justices pointed out that it was clear after careful re-appraisal of evidence on record that the prosecution established to the required standard of proof that the appellant trafficked in the narcotic drugs in form of 75 pellets of Heroin Hydrochloride in his bowels.

According to them, the pellets were recovered from his rectum after he expelled them between November 3 and 6, 2012 while under the observation of, among others, six prosecution witnesses.

"Besides, the appellant acknowledged to have emitted the pellets having signed the observation. We find no other reasonable explanation except the fact that he had the seventy five pellets in his bowels for the sole purpose of trafficking them," they said.

The justices observed that all witnesses who had handled the retrieved pellets told the trial court on the movement of the pellets up to the crucial point of analysis by the Chief Government Chemist and finally their exhibition at the trial.

All this, they said, constituted an assurance that the exhibited pellets were the items that the appellant had emitted under observation and that the CGC subsequently confirmed to be Heroin Hydrochloride.

"The appellant's claim that he was framed with the charges due to his quarrel with an unnamed TRA female official is farfetched and is not supported by evidence," they said.

There was another complaint by the appellant relating to the chain of custody of the drugs that was broken and had doubted the credibility of officers from Immigration and TRA as independent witnesses, as they were bent to support the police.

In their decision, however, the justices pointed out that the appellant's attack on the believability of these witnesses solely on the ground of their occupation in public service is implausible.

"We think it would take a very smart imagination on the part of the two police officers and four independent witnesses to cook up the numbers of the pellets and different times and dates for their excretion in the observation form which was as well signed by the appellant," they said.

The prosecution had told the court that on November 2, 2012 at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) within the District of Ilala in Dar es Salaam Region, the appellant trafficked in narcotic drugs namely Heroin Hydrochloride weighing 964.24 grammes valued at 43,390,800/-.

There was no dispute that the appellant, a holder of a Tanzanian Passport, was arrested at the JNIA on 2nd November, 2012 at about 19:00 hours shortly before he boarded a Kenya Airways flight on an electronic ticket for a trip to Hong Kong via Nairobi, Kenya.

 It was the prosecution case that the appellant's arrest was initially made by a security officer at the JNIA, acting on information received from a whistleblower that he was carrying pellets of a certain narcotic drug in his bowels.

The said officer handed over the appellant to one policeman who then called the attention of his superior from the Criminal Investigations Department Headquarters - Anti-Drug Unit (ADU). The appellant was taken to ADU Offices at the airport where he was searched but no drugs were found.

Since he was suspected to have the drugs in his rectum, the appellant was detained there for observation until November 6, 2012. Whenever he asked to answer the call of nature, he was taken to a special toilet that sieves any foreign matter except bodily waste.

It was ensured that the toilet was clean and that the appellant confirmed this before he used it. In the course of his detention as aforesaid, the appellant emitted, in nine lots, a total of seventy-five pellets suspected to be narcotic drugs.

It was in evidence that each emission of the pellets was recorded in an observation form, which was then signed by the appellant as well as the police and independent witnesses. On November 8, 2012, the wrapped pellets were taken to the Chief Government Chemist for analysis.

When the appellant was put on his defence, he admitted having been arrested at the JNIA on the fateful day as he was destined to China but denied committing the offence.

He attributed his travails to the work of a certain female official from the Tanzania Revenue Authority with whom he crossed swords previously on October 16, 2012 over her assessment of chargeable import duty on certain goods he had imported from China.

Government has opposed a request from small-scale miners ...

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Author: FAUSTINE KAPAMA

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