Mombasa's Sh44m ivory trafficking suspect says he has never seen elephant tusks

Ivory smuggling suspect Faisal Mohammed. PHOTO: FILE

MOMBASA: A key suspect in the Sh44 million ivory trafficking trial in Mombasa has claimed he had never seen elephant tusks before his arrest and also disclosed that he was betrayed to Interpol by a Kenyan police informer in Dar es Salaam where he was arrested on December 22 2014.

Feisal Mohamed Ali also denied any links to international ivory trafficking and also disclosed that Interpol officers who arrested him claimed he had been a fugitive for ten years.

The defendant lamented that his name has been tarnished by the media accused the state of discrimination by denying him bail. Feisal and four other men are on trial charged with illegal trade in 413 pieces of ivory between Kenya and the Far East.

Police alleges the ivory was seized in a yard in Mombasa's Tudor estate on June 2 2014. The trial of his co-defendants began in June 2014 upon their arrest in Mombasa that year but Feisal's began on Christmas Eve after his arrest in Tanzania by Interpol officers supported by Kenya and Tanzanian police officers.

After his arrest he was transported by road on a bone jarring journey from Dar es Salaam to Mombasa. The trial has been characterised by several delays, loss of court exhibits, destruction of scene of crime and withdrawal of a magistrate.

It was restarted by a new magistrate late last year after the proceedings by a previous magistrate were declared unreadable. All the defendants but Feisal are free on bail.

Last week Mombasa Principal Magistrate Diana Mochache ruled that the state has demonstrated a strong case against Feisal and his co-defendants Abdul Halim Sadiq, Abdulmajeed Ibrahim, Ghalib Sadiq Kara and Pravez Noor Mohamed and asked them to defend themselves.

On Friday. Feisal lamented that he had been a victim of a vile media conspiracy and state discrimination yet he had never seen ivory he is accused of selling.

"I have never seen an elephant tusk in my life. I first saw the ivory at Kenya Wildlife Service [headquarters] in Mombasa during the trial of this case," said Feisal who admitted that Abdul Halim Sadiq is his nephew who did errands for him for pay.

"I am not an international criminal. I am not the kingpin of illegal ivory trade. I am not an ivory smuggler as the media has been portraying me," said Feisal before Mochache

Feisal, 48, claimed he left Mombasa on June 2  2014 to visit relatives in Dar es Salaam adding that on December 22 2014 while having lunch with his family and a police informer, Interpol officers accompanied by Tanzanian and Kenyan police stormed into the house an placed him under arrest.

"The Interpol told me they had been looking for him for the last 10 years and at long last they had come across me as I sat with my family and a police informer who betrayed me," said Feisal.

Feisal said as a Kenyan he was entitled to bail and denied an earlier testimony by Abdul Halim Sadiq that he (Feisal) hired the vehicle police claim ferried the ivory to Fuji Motors yard in Tudor.

"Sometimes when I am in Nairobi I used to ask him to work for me on commission basis like selling and hiring vehicle," said Feisal who added that he only hired a vehicle to ferry his furniture from Lamu to Mombasa.

Abdul Halim Sadiq testified that before he was arrested on June 4 at Fuji Motors he spoke to Feisal on cellphone over hiring of the Canter which police linked to the transportation of the ivory.

"Yes my honour I know Feisal Mohamed Ali. He is my uncle. I know him as an elderly man who used to advise us on various issues," said Abdul Halim Sadiq.

Abdul Halim Sadiq alleged that before Feisal allegedly hired the alleged KAM 832 vehicle his uncle had hired another vehicle for reasons he did not know.

"He told me to look for a canter which he could use in carrying some of his goods. When I found one he later rejected it and asked me look for another. I later hired another canter at Marikiti Market [in Mombasa].

Abdul Halim Sadiq also alleged that Feisal later called him at night on June 4 to go and find out why the police had gone to Fuji Motors.

"When I arrived at Fuji motors police told me that they were waiting for me. They claimed I was the manager and had a key to the store and they wanted to enter. I got shocked and told them I was not aware of what they were talking about," said Abdul Halim Sadiq.

He said the police arrested and informed him that they wanted him to oversee how they were to break into the store where the alleged ivory was found.

"When I realized there was a problem I gave the police officers his (Feisal's) mobile phone and they spoke him several times.....," said the suspect.