Prisons chief confirms local drug lord set free


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Feb 11, 2007
Prisons chief confirms local drug lord set free

Dar es Salaam

CONVICTED drug dealer William Michael Onesmo, who was sentenced to 40 years in prison in Mauritius and later deported to his native Tanzania to serve his jail term, has been released by local prison authorities since early last year.

The Principal Commissioner of Prisons, Augustino Nanyaro, confirmed to THISDAY in Dar es Salaam yesterday that Onesmo is now a free man.

Onesmo came back into the spotlight recently after anti-drug investigators in Mauritius arrested a delegation of Tanzanian boxers on allegations of importing narcotics worth close to $2m to the island nation.

The investigators in Mauritius have said the drugs were linked to Onesmo and wondered why the convicted drug trafficker was not serving his official sentence in jail.

According to Nanyaro: ’’What I can say is that William Michael Onesmo and his colleague Mabrouk Iddi Hassan, who was arrested on the same charges, were freed last year after completing their prison terms.’’

But when asked how come Onesmo did not serve his full 40-year-jail sentence in Tanzania, Nanyaro was unable to offer any answers.

He said the duty and obligation of the prisons department is to receive prisoners and place them in custody to serve their prison terms.

’’When the prisoners complete their jail terms, they are allowed to go free as good citizens,’’ the prisons boss said.

On his part, the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Robert Manumba, told THSDAY that the police are working closely with their Mauritian counterparts who reportedly seized illicit drugs in luggage belonging to Tanzanians.

Manumba said although Onesmo may have been released from prison, investigations are continuing to determine the authenticity of the matter and find out who else could be behind this latest case of illegal drug trafficking involving Tanzanians.

’’We can’t just go ahead and arrest William Michael Onesmo without first investigating the case and determining its authenticity, and then we will know what should be the next steps to take,’’ the DCI said.

He, however, declined to comment on Onesmo’s apparent release from local prison despite not having served the full 40-year-jail sentence meted out to him by Mauritian authorities.

According to a statement issued by Mauritian police, Onesmo appeared to have been the ring-leader and owner of the four-kilogramme consignment of suspected heroin worth $1.8m (approx. 2.1bn/-).

’’Following interrogations of the suspects, it appears that the ringleader of the operation is one William Michael Onesmo, a Tanzanian drug trafficker well known to the Mauritian police,’’ the statement said.

The Mauritius Anti-Drug and Smuggling Unit (ADSU) has already cleared Tanzanian boxer Emilian Patrick and coach Nassoro Michael Irenge of any charges in relation to the case.

’’Two members of the delegation, boxer Emillian Patrick Polino and coach Nassoro Michael Irenge, did not take part in the conspiracy to introduce drugs into the island,’’ said the statement.

The two were among the six members of the Tanzanian boxing team who had traveled to Mauritius to take part in the 2nd African Boxing Championships, but were arrested at the Mountview Hotel in Quatre Bornes, 15 kilometres from the capital Port Louis, with the suspected heroin package.

Polino is the only Tanzanian boxer to have qualified for the Beijing Olympic Games opening in the Chinese capital on August 8, and local officials said his release was a major relief.

According to the Mauritius police statement, Onesmo was previously arrested by the island police for drug trafficking, condemned to 40 years in prison in Mauritius, and subsequently deported to Tanzania to serve his prison term.

Onesmo’s telephone number was found in the two mobile phones that the boxers had in their possession, the statement further said.

It added that the ADSU now knows the identity of the local contacts (in Mauritius), and has put them under strict surveillance.
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