Shoddy drug case probe costs taxpayers Sh7.4m

A manager who was acquitted in a cocaine trafficking case has been awarded Sh7.4 million.

The High Court ordered the Government to pay Bobby Macharia, general manager of Pepe Ltd based at Athi River, as compensation for humiliation and wrongful detention in the 2005 Sh1.65 billion cocaine trafficking case.

The court heard that the drugs were neither weighed nor did the investigators go to The Netherlands to ascertain whether what had been impounded was narcotics.

Justice Richard Mwongo ruled that the State should not have held Macharia for seven days and charged him as they had no evidence and never investigated the allegations passed to them by their counterparts in The Netherlands.

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On December 9, 2004, police in The Netherlands impounded two containers labelled PCLU 4334524 and PCLU 4334525, which allegedly contained 295kg of cocaine.

Six arrested

Police investigations locally showed the containers had been at Pepe.

Their investigations led to the discovery that the containers were registered with pre-fixes PLCU 4334524 and PLCU 4334525 instead of PCLU in the Pepe Ltd registers.

The police arrested Macharia and five others on suspicion that they were involved in an attempt to disguise the movement of the containers with the knowledge that they would be used to traffic narcotics.

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After holding them for a week without seeking the court’s permission to do so, the police charged Macharia alongside Kenya Revenue Authority officers Yusuf Ali Mohammed Yakub, Joshua Omondi Obuor, Daniel Tsofwa Masha, Mohammed Hatibu Dzugwe and Jones Kathuo Musuli.

They denied trafficking 295kg of cocaine by storing it in two containers at Kilindini Harbour in Mombasa between January 31 and March 24, 2004, and helping Central Valley Supplies to traffic the drugs.

The lead investigator in the case, Inspector Francis Wambua, told the court that he had no idea why Macharia was arrested.

He further testified that Macharia was arrested by Chief Inspector Peter Njeru, who was helping in the investigation, but asserted that he had no evidence to show that Macharia trafficked cocaine.

The court noted that then Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko appeared in person before the court and apologised to the accused person for the mess of the investigators.

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 Doomed to fail

“It was a prosecution doomed to fail from the outset without such compliance... I find that, overall, Mr Macharia was prosecuted under circumstances where it would have been impossible to convict; that the prosecution was aware of the inadequacy of the case they were pursuing against him; and that it was improper to prosecute him knowing fully well that unless they complied with the law, the prosecution would be hopeless,” the judge said.

High Courtpolice investigationsdrug trafficking