It wasn’t me: Ship owner denies Sh22 million drug charge

Ndeichumia Bilali Kimani, owner of the yacht MV Baby Iris, follows his trial in a Mombasa law court. [File, Standard]
The owner of a yacht that was blown up on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s orders in 2015 has denied any involvement in the trafficking of narcotics worth Sh22 million found aboard the vessel.

Ndechumia Bilali Kimani said in court yesterday that he was out of the country on April 10, 2015 when anti-narcotics police stormed Kilifi Boat Yard where the luxury vessel was moored and arrested five suspects in connection to the drugs.

He was charged with trafficking narcotics worth Sh22 million before Senior Principal Magistrate Henry Nyakweba. He, however, denied the charges and was released on a bond of Sh10 million.

Kimani, who was deported from Madagascar after allegedly fleeing Kenya in 2015, said he bought the yacht from Mike Connel, a British businessman, for 60,000 Euros (Sh7.5 million).

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Among those arrested earlier and charged in connection with the narcotics were Seychelles tycoon Clement Serge Bristol and Kenyans Ahmed Said Bakari, Mohamed Bakari Mohamed, Sharifu Mzee Mohamed and Ahmed Hussein Salim. The four Kenyans were released on a Sh10 million bond. The court, however, declined to grant bond to Bristol on grounds that he was a flight risk.

The five are charged with trafficking 2,028 grammes of heroin worth Sh6,084,000 concealed in a black suitcase in a motor vehicle.

They are also charged with trafficking 7,600 grammes of heroin with a market value of Sh22,800,000 concealed under the water tank of Baby Iris.

Before its capture in a yard in Kilifi on April 10, 2015 with 7,600 grammes of heroin, MV Baby Iris, which is registered in Singapore, used to ferry wealthy Western tourists and vacationers to Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar and Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.

The vessel was later blown up on August 14, 2015 in the high seas by the navy under the supervision of the then Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery, Chief of Defence Forces General Joseph Mwathethe and the then Coast Regional Coordinator Nelson Marwa.

Yesterday, Peter Buteman, the owner of the boat yard, told the magistrate that he was in England when police arrested his workers and the five men over the alleged narcotics. “Mr Carnal came to me and told me that he was selling the yacht to Mr Bilali who had earlier approached me wanting to purchase the boat,” said Buteman.

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