Suspect in Sh1.3b drugs case denies hiring ship’s crew


Pak Abdolghaffar in a Mombasa court yesterday where he is facing charges of trafficking 377.2kg of heroin and 2,400 litres of diesel mixed with heroin worth Sh1.3b. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

A ship’s crew member who has been charged with trafficking drugs worth Sh1.3 billion in 2014 has denied recruiting his colleagues into the syndicate.

The ship, Bushehr Amin Darya, which was suspected to have been carrying 377.2kg of heroin, was blown up in the deep waters of the Indian Ocean in 2014. Pak Abdolghaffar, who has been charged alongside nine other suspects, denied being a recruiting agent when he appeared before Mombasa Chief Magistrate Martha Mutuku.

While being cross-examined by prosecution counsel Alexander Muteti during a defence hearing on Tuesday, Mr Pak denied recruiting the Pakistani nationals who were aboard the vessel that was also reported to have been carrying 2,400 litres of diesel mixed with heroin. He told the court he met the Pakistanis the day he boarded the ship. The ship, he said, had been planned to go to Dubai then Somalia and denied knowing the ship’s other crew members before the journey.

Pak also denied a claim by the prosecution that his brother was also an agent who was involved in the recruitment of part of the crew members into the trafficking ring. He, however, refused to spell the name of the agent who gave him the job.

“I don’t know how to pronounce the name. I have met the agent three times. My brother is not an agent and operates his business within Iran,” Pak told the court.

Pak said he boarded the ship in Iran and denied another allegation that the ship sailed to Dubai to load the suspected drugs. He said they sailed to Dubai to load fruits and diesel that they would use during their journey. He also said they dropped the Iranian flag and replaced it with Dubai’s while in its territory.

Pak said he does not know the owner of the ship. He also claimed the ship’s name was not known as Al-Noor but Amin Darya. He said he only came to hear the name Al-Noor after it was mentioned several times in court.

The suspect told the court that they sailed to Somalia where the ship was refueled and on their way to Tanzania, they were stopped by a German Naval ship whose officials searched their ship. Kenya Navy officers later led them to the Kenyan waters where, upon docking in Mombasa, more searches were conducted. The Kenyan officers broke the seals of the ‘cement’ they were transporting.

“When the officers were taking samples of what they claim to have found in the ship, we were in a van. We were not there when samples were being taken from the ship,” Pak told the court.

Another suspect, Mohamed Osman Ahmed, told the court he was in court because of his communication to a captain called Abdille who was to give him a job as an agent. He was to be given the job because Amin Darya ship didn’t have an agent. Ahemed said he later declined the job after failing to get the documentation of the ship.