x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Traffickers who swallowed packets of cocaine sent to jail for 29 years

Two Tanzanians charged with cocaine trafficking were each sentenced to 29 years in prison by the Criminal Court of First Instance.

ABU DHABI // Two Tanzanians charged with cocaine trafficking were each sentenced yesterday to 29 years in prison by the Criminal Court of First Instance. MK and HA, were convicted of trafficking, possession and consumption of the drug. Prosecutors say they smuggled more than 1kg of cocaine into the country on May 12 after swallowing packets of the drug. They were sentenced to 25 years plus the minimum sentence for drug consumption, four years.

The two were caught in a sting after the Abu Dhabi Criminal Department was tipped off that the two defendants were "running a network of drug trafficking", prosecutors said. A criminal investigation division officer, according to court documents, posed as a customer and the men were arrested after selling to him. Prosecutors say MK confessed to the police he had brought the drug into the country and took drugs himself. But he told the court he only delivered them. HA confessed to the police he possessed and trafficked the drug, prosecutors say. But HA also denied the charges in court.

Defence lawyers for the two men told the court that police did not follow correct procedures in arresting them and that the clearance from the Public Prosecution was "flawed and unauthorised". The clearance permitted the police to arrest HA in his room at a hotel in Abu Dhabi, along with every person with him. Only one raid was authorised, and it was to be made within 24 hours, the clearance said. The clearance was signed at 2.45pm in Khalifa City A; the raid was made at 4pm on the same day, May 13, according to court documents.

Lawyers argued that police could not possibly have been given clearance at Khalifa City A, returned to the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, where a signature from the Public Prosecution office was needed, set up cameras inside the hotel, then made the arrest - all within an hour and 15 minutes. The lawyers also argued that prosecutors gave clearance to the police to raid a different hotel and room number than were authorised.

@Email:hhassan@thenational.ae