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How Italian Mafia gained control of Malindi

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Updated Tue, July 3rd 2012 at 00:00 GMT +3

By PAUL GITAU

Those who have always suspected that Malindi has become an extension of the Italian region of Sicily have even greater reason to worry.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) says it has evidence that the coastal town is firmly in the grip of the Italian Mafia, which controls and compromises the administration of justice.

It is generally easy for international criminals to hide in Africa because of its weak law enforcement systems and porous borders but Mr Mutua says the case of Malindi is one of the worst.

He says for a long time the Italian Mafia has had immense influence over the security apparatus and judicial system in Malindi, enabling “a climate of impunity” to hold sway.

“They have taken full control of Malindi. They are in control of police, courts and lawyers,” he told The County Weekly in an interview.

“Malindi is controlled by foreigners. They have established a club of impunity. The town is full of foreign thieves and it is very easy for anyone to come and stay here,” added Mr Mutua.

But coast police boss Aggrey Adoli dismisses the allegations by the LSK boss saying police have arrested many criminals who have been hiding in Malindi and other coastal towns.

The police boss, however, admits that because of the huge tourism industry, Malindi has been a magnate for European fraudsters, many of whom sneak in as tourists and stay on.

“Some come as tourists or to attend weddings and eventually find their way into the country,” he told The County Weekly.

Malindi-based government officials, lawyers and local residents have been unwilling to speak about the issue with our journalists as though they were sworn to a code of silence.

Well-placed sources say most of the criminals who have turned Malindi into their hideout come from Italy, Germany and eastern European countries and the majority engage in drug trafficking.

But there is also growing concern about criminals arriving at the Kenyan coast from Pakistan, Ethiopia and West Africa to engage in drug trade, pimping, gambling and other criminal activities.

Besides engaging in the international drugs trade, many of the Westerners also commit forgery including faking their own deaths to avoid detection.

The County Weekly has seen a list of Western Europeans caught with narcotics and although official records indicate that some are serving jail terms, it is not clear whether they are actually in custody.

Some of those named in the list are believed to have visited the Coast and hidden there for years benefiting from police and other local patronage.

They include Joachim Mosser, an Austrian charged in 2007 with possessing two kilogrammes of cocaine. Records show he is serving 20 years. In 2003 an Italian, De Sio Ciro was found with 5.639 kilogrammes of heroin and was jailed for eight years and fined Sh1 million.

An American born in 1951 committed suicide in jail while on trial after being found with 17.4 kilogrammes of cocaine.

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