Kenya drops cocaine smuggling charges against British aristocrat

In this file photo taken on November 11, 2016 British national Jack Marrian (R), who faces charges of trafficking 100 kilos of cocaine from Brazil to the port of Mombasa, watches as a slab of cocaine is presented as evidence at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headquarters, Nairobi. (AFP)
Updated 14 March 2019

Kenya drops cocaine smuggling charges against British aristocrat

  • One hundred kilos of cocaine, said to be worth around $6 million, were seized from a shipping container owned by sugar trader Jack Marrian

NAIROBI: Kenya’s High Court acquitted a British aristocrat on Thursday of smuggling cocaine in a shipment of sugar, ending a high-profile case that captured public interest in how the justice system would treat the scion of a prominent colonial-era family.
One hundred kilos of cocaine, said to be worth around $6 million, were seized from a shipping container owned by sugar trader Jack Marrian in the Kenyan port of Mombasa in July 2016. Marrian’s colleague Roy Mwanthi was also charged.
Marrian, grandson of a Scottish earl, has always maintained that they were framed. The prosecution applied to terminate the case for lack of evidence, but six weeks ago a magistrate in a lower court refused to drop the charges.
“The court was in essence directing a prosecution against accused persons against the wish of the prosecution, without a complainant and a prosecutor,” High Court Judge Luka Kimaru wrote in Thursday’s ruling dismissing the case.
“Hugely relieved that after so long the prosecution has had the courage to do the right thing,” Marrian told Reuters via a message on WhatsApp. The case against Mwanthi was also dropped.
During the trial the defense team presented a letter from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) stating that Marrian, 33, could have had no knowledge that the drugs were stashed in a shipment which was en route from Brazil to Uganda.
The grandson of the sixth Earl of Cawdor, Marrian grew up in Kenya, where his grandfather was a minister in the colonial government ahead of independence in 1963.
Mombasa is a favored port of entry for drug traffickers in east Africa, where the smuggling of cocaine, heroin, cannabis and amphetamine-type stimulants is on the rise, according to the United Nations.
Corruption among law enforcement and customs officials make the region a convenient transit point for drug trafficking to the rest of the continent, Europe, and north America.


UK PM Boris Johnson locks down England as COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

Updated 31 October 2020

UK PM Boris Johnson locks down England as COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

  • Lockdown starts just after midnight on Thursday morning
  • United Kingdom has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England back into a national lockdown after the United Kingdom passed the milestone of one million COVID-19 cases and a second wave of infections threatened to overwhelm the health service.
The United Kingdom, which has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19, is grappling with more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day and scientists have warned the “worst case” scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded.
Johnson, at a hastily convened news conference in Downing Street after news of a lockdown leaked to local media, said that the one-month lockdown across England would kick in at a minute past midnight on Thursday morning and last until Dec. 2.
In some of the most onerous restrictions in Britain’s peacetime history, people will only be allowed to leave home for specific reasons such as education, work, exercise, shopping for essentials and medicines or caring for the vulnerable.
“Now is the time to take action because there is no alternative,” Johnson said, flanked by his chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and his chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance.
The government will revive its emergency coronavirus wage subsidy scheme to ensure workers who are temporarily laid off during a new England-wide lockdown receive 80% of their pay.
Essential shops, schools, and universities will remain open, Johnson said. Pubs and restaurants will be shut apart from for takeaways. All non-essential retail will close.
Johnson’s imposition of stricter curbs came after scientists warned the outbreak was going in the wrong direction and that action was needed to halt the spread of the virus if families were to have any hope of gathering at Christmas.
Johnson was criticized by political opponents for moving too slowly into the first national lockdown, which stretched from March 23 to July 4. He fell ill with COVID in late March and was hospitalized in early April.
The measures bring England into alignment with France and Germany by imposing nationwide restrictions almost as severe as the ones that drove the global economy this year into its deepest recession in generations.
So far the United Kingdom has reported 46,555 COVID-19 deaths — defined as those dying within 28 days of a positive test. A broader death measure of those with COVID-19 on their death certificates gives the toll as 58,925.
The United Kingdom has the world’s fifth largest official death toll, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.