Pubdate: Tue, 16 Aug 2005
Source: Daily Nation (Kenya)
Copyright: 2005 Nation Newspapers
Author: Odhiambo Orlale


Powerful drug barons have hatched a scheme to discredit the police in
the Sh6 billion cocaine haul case, the Director of Public Prosecutions
said yesterday.

Mr Keriako Tobiko said the barons were using politicians to try and
divert the public's attention from the case.

Speaking after opening a refresher course for 20 public prosecutors in
Nairobi, the DPP said a statement by police commissioner Hussein Ali
on Sunday to the effect that the haul was intact should end the debate.

Mr Tobiko asked why critics thought the police could not protect the
seized drugs, while they were the same ones guarding the Central Bank,
where local and foreign currency worth trillions of shillings is kept.

"As the prosecution arm of the Government, we are not the custodians
of court exhibits, but I can confirm, as it is in the public domain,
that the drug haul was viewed, weighed, sampled and stored safely in
the presence of the court. Prosecutors, the accused persons and their
lawyers were all present," the DPP said. He, however, did not name the
barons or the politicians involved in the scheme, whose aim, he said,
was to spread propaganda and discredit the case against local and
foreign suspects in custody.

One of the suspects was in the Netherlands and the Government had, on
March 13, sent a formal request to the Dutch authorities to have him
extradited to face the charges back home.

Mr Tobiko's predecessor, Mr Philip Murgor, who was dropped in May,
blamed his sacking on the case, saying he had questioned how
investigations were being done and how the drugs were being handled.

Yesterday, Mr Tobiko threw his weight behind Maj-Gen Ali, saying he
had faith in the police.

Claims that the drugs had been sold by Cabinet ministers and other
influential people in Government were lies, he said.

The claim was made by Belgut MP Charles Keter who recently said in
Parliament that the cocaine had disappeared and that some ministers,
senior judicial officers and civil servants had travelled to the
Netherlands to negotiate its sale.

The claim caused an uproar with members asking Mr Keter to
substantiate or withdraw the remarks. But temporary deputy Speaker
Samuel Poghisio said he had not heard them and that he would rule on
the matter after reading the Hansard.

Mr Tobiko denied claims that the prosecution was responsible for the
delay in hearing the case.

"May I state categorically that the prosecution has no control over
the court diary and believes in following the due process and will not
cut corners just to satisfy demands or expediency of some interested
parties," he said.

Mr Tobiko, who took over from Mr Murgor three months ago, pointed an
accusing finger at the Judiciary and defence lawyers, saying his
officers had not sought any adjournments.

On Sunday, the police commissioner dismissed claims that the drug haul
had been sold and urged politicians to stop using innuendos and
rumours to settle personal scores.

"Some people have even alleged that the drugs have been tampered with.
These are bizarre and false rumours that must be dismissed with the
contempt they deserve as they are in bad taste," he added.

He said that police were prepared to produce the drugs and have them
tested by the Government chemist, the police chief said.

"We will take fresh samples and have them tested by the Government
chemist to dispel any notions based on these allegations and anyone
imputing that we are party to their disappearance is wrong."

The allegations "are criminal in nature and we are holding the drugs.
Whether they are in Nairobi, Mombasa or Gilgil, we know they are safe."
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