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MPs protest release of ‘drug barons’

Discussion in 'Habari na Hoja mchanganyiko' started by DoubleOSeven, Aug 22, 2011.

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    DoubleOSeven JF-Expert Member

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    “This is not time for defending oneself. It is time for speaking the truth” Attorney General Frederick Werema

    By Lucas Liganga

    The Citizen Chief Reporter

    Legislators yesterday voiced their anger over the release on bail of two Pakistanis accused of trafficking 180 kilogrammes of heroin worth a street value of Sh6.2 billion.

    Describing the action as frustrating efforts to fight the vice, they said if the government was serious in its anti-drugs crusade the two Pakistanis released on bail by the High Court should be re-arrested and remanded pending completion of their case.

    The MPs were reacting to revelations by anti-narcotics agencies during a one-day seminar that the release on bail of the two Pakistanis was discouraging the uphill task of fighting drug trafficking.

    The High Court recently released on bail Abdul Ghan Peer Bux and Shahbaz Malik pending trial, but ordered the continued custody of two Tanzanians, Fred William Chande and Kambi Zubeir Seif after failing to meet bail conditions. They were jointly arrested in February at Dar es Salaam’s Mbezi Jogoo suburbs in possession of 180 kilogrammes of heroin, the second largest drug seizure in recent years.

    They were consequently arraigned at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court, charged with conspiracy and trafficking narcotics drugs into Tanzania.The protest against the granting of bail to the two Pakistanis by Lady Justice Upendo Msuya was revealed to the MPs by Mr Rogers William Siyanga, a member of the National Task Force Against Drug Trafficking formed by President Jakaya Kikwete. He said such moves “dampened our zeal to fight the vice.”

    Members of the task force are from the Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service (TISS), police force, Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) and Drug Control Commission operating under the Prime Minister’s Office.
    Mr Moses Machali (Kasulu Urban-NCCR-Mageuzi) said apart from re-arresting and remanding the two suspects in custody the judge who granted them bail should also be arrested and charged in court. He said drug trafficking laws should be amended to enable them mete out heavy penalties to drug traffickers, including being shot to death in public.

    Mr Mustafa Akunaay (Mbulu-Chadema) asked why the two suspects had been granted bail while their case was unbailable as it fell under the economic sabotage and organised crime docket.
    He said drug barons were better placed to turn around their cases because of their connections with political leaders.
    Visibly emotional and shedding tears, Ms Amina Abdallah Amour, also called for the re-arrest of the two suspects and the hanging to death of drug dealers. She said she has lost two young relatives in June and July this year after they succumbed to drugs. Mr Mohamed Mnyaa (Mkanyageni-CUF) said since the detention and death penalty punishments were still in force, drug traffickers should be given such punishments.

    Mr Hamad Rashid Mohamed (Wawi-CUF) also appealed for the re-arrest of the two Pakistanis, saying: “Their release on bail is questionable and disheartening.”
    He proposed that a seminar to be chaired by President Jakaya Kikwete should be convened in Dar es Salaam to bring together all stakeholders, including magistrates, judges and religious leaders.

    Mr Felix Mkosamali (Muhambwe, NCCR-Mageuzi) said the judge who released the suspects on bail should be made accountable before MPs debate budget estimates for the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs and Justice next week.

    Mr David Kafulila (Kigoma South, NCCR-Mageuzi) said all drug traffickers should be hanged to death. “Hangmen are being paid for doing nothing,” remarked the MP. Mrs Anne Kilango Malecela (Same East-CCM) wondered about the case in which four or five years ago an illicit drugs processing plant was discovered in Dar es Salaam. “I remember even former Prime Minister (Frederick) Sumaye visited the plant. Why are cases involving drug trafficking prosecuted at a snail’s pace?” she queried.

    Reacting to concerns raised by the MPs, the Attorney General, Mr Frederick Werema, said: “This is not time for defending oneself. It is time for speaking the truth.”
    He said when he heard the bail issue he went out of the seminar hall and asked the Chief Justice for an update on the case.
    Mr Werema told the MPs and officials of anti-narcotics agencies that the Chief Justice had reassured him that he had assigned two Court of Appeal judges to deal with the case and a ruling will be made next week. On the granting of bail, Mr Werema said he told the director of public prosecutions (DPP), Mr Eliezer Feleshi, that “this could be a disaster”.

    “The DPP suggested to me that the judge be arrested but I advised him that we better appeal to the Court of Appeal,” said Mr Werema, declaring: “Legal weaknesses could be minimal but human weaknesses are huge.”
    He disagreed with proposals by the MPs about the death penalty saying it was a very difficult punishment to mete out.“When I was on the bar serving as a judge I sentenced one person to death, but I ended up crying afterwards,” said Mr Werema.

    Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda concurred with the MPs’ proposals of convening a seminar that will bring together all stakeholders saying: “This is a national crisis.” Calling on them to work closely with anti-narcotics watchdogs, Mr Pinda suggested that the fight against drug trafficking should be an East African Community agenda. The head of the anti-narcotics unit, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (SACP) Godfrey Nzowa, said reports reaching the unit indicated that MPs were implicated in drug trafficking, an observation that caused a pin-drop silence at the Msekwa hall.