Ivory suspects await bond ruling

Abdulrahman Mahmoud Sheikh, Sheikh Mahmoud Abdulrahman, Mahmoud Abdulrahman Sheikh, Lucy Muthoni Kahoto, Musa Jacob Lithare and Samwel Mboto Mundia at the Mombasa Law Courts on Tuesday. They denied exporting ivory trophies to Thailand. A ruling on their bond request will be made tomorrow. [PHOTO: KELVIN KARANI/STANDARD]
Six people accused of trafficking ivory worth Sh576 million between Kenya and Thailand were on Tuesday charged at the Mombasa Law Courts with trading in trophies of endangered wildlife species.

The six, who were arrested on diverse dates last month, have been in detention at Port Police Station in Mombasa for over 30 days as police investigated them.

Abdurahman Mahmoud Sheikh, Sheikh Mahmoud Abdurahman, Mahmoud Abdurahman Sheikh, Lucy Muthoni Kahoto, Musa Jacob Lithare and Samuel Mbota Mundie face three counts of engaging in and trafficking wildlife trophies to Thailand.

The six are accused that on diverse dates between March 15 and April 26 this year, in Mombasa county, jointly with others not in court, they dealt with wildlife trophies of an endangered species namely, 511 pieces of ivory weighing 3127 kilogrammes, without a Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) licence.

They face a second charge of exporting specimens of wildlife species under Section 99 (1) of the Wildlife Conservation Management Act (2013).

They are also accused of engaging in organised criminal activity.

The respondents also face an alternative charge of exporting restricted goods under Section 200 (c) of the East African Community Customs Management Act.

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The charges indicate they exported the said trophies loaded in container number FCIU 5235796 valued at Sh576 million without a permit from KWS.

They pleaded not guilty before Chief Magistrate Susan Shitubi and were remanded at the police station.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Alexander Muteti said the respondents would only apply for bond after the investigating officer in the case, James Githinji, has been cross examined by the defense side.

The accused, represented by seven lawyers, appeared in court again yesterday where they requested the court to grant them bond as they stand trial because they had already spent 30 days in detention.

The defence lawyers however, cross-examined Mr Githinji on why he intended to have the six denied bond.

Githinji said the wealth held by the six was still unknown and they could interfere with investigations.

But the defence argued such fears were baseless as the six had offered themselves to police and have always co-operated.

Ms Shitubi said she will issue a ruling on the bond application on Friday.

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Abdurahman Mahmoud SheikhSheikh Mahmoud AbdurahmanWildlife Conservation Management Act (2013)East African Community Customs Management Act