You are currently viewing #33. Prosecution Concludes in 2014 Ivory Seizure Case from Singapore
Republic vs. Falah Manzu Yusuf @ Mohamed Faki and 5 others - 1004 kg of ivory seized in crates amidst 200 bags of Uganda coffee

#33. Prosecution Concludes in 2014 Ivory Seizure Case from Singapore

April 8th, 2022: The prosecutions case was concluded today when the last witness testified in an eight year old ivory seizure investigation.  

On March 28th, 2014, Singapore authorities verified a sea container cargo that was found to contain 106 pieces of ivory weighing 1004 kg amongst 200 bags of coffee beans. The container originated from Kampala, Uganda, and transited through Mombasa in late January 2014. 

It was initially reported that this investigation commenced in late 2015, through a joint task force supported by the NGO ‘Freeland’, in cooperation with  the Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) based in Nairobi.  Investigators were focused on two other seizures that had initiated/transited Pointe Noire, Congo, in 2014 and early 2015.  Those investigations yielded intelligence connecting them to this seizure presently before the court.

However, through the testimony of Superintendent James Githinji of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) on Thursday, it became clear that this shipment had been the object of scrutiny by DCI and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) before the container had been opened in Singapore in March 2014.  This information would suggest that at the time, persons within DCI or the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) had declined to proceed with the investigation/prosecution until being re-vitalized in 2017.

The prosecution and defence now await the decision of Chief Magistrate Florence Macharia as to whether enough evidence has been submitted to prove  a prima facie case.
There are a number of critical considerations for the court to consider as follows:
1. There is no scientific report before the court that the ivory seized in Singapore is actually ivory.  This is an essential criteria for ivory cases in Kenya. It had been discovered too late that a scientific DNA analysis of the ivory had been conducted in August 2014.
2. No report or affidavit relating to Singapore’s authorities involvement with this ivory seizure was forwarded to Kenya investigators and/or made its way to the prosecution file. Also, while photograph’s of the container and contents were provided, there was no detail as to date or time or by who? 
3. All of the accused but one were involved in the movement of the container from Uganda to Mombasa Port. As is usual with such prosecutions, no direct evidence was before the court that the five accused had specific knowledge of ivory in the container. 
4. This is compounded by evidence indicating that a seal(s) had been removed and the very real possibility that ivory was added to the container when it reached Mombasa. (See DNA map)
5. While Mpesa money transactions were presented in court as evidence of financial transactions between some of the accused, the payments have not been tied specifically to the container or its contents.
The DNA analysis, with the blue circles indicating within 200 - 300 km where the elephants had been killed. The ivory came primarily from Tanzania followed by Kenya. (Courtesy Centre for Environmental Forensic Science.)

CM Macharia has given both prosecution and defence until April 22nd, 2022 to provide their submissions as to whether the accused have a case to answer.

In February of this year,  Dr. Samuel Wasser et al published a report, “Elephant genotypes reveal the size and connectivity of transnational ivory traffickers”, in which this particular seizure was shown to be connected to many others throughout East and West Africa.  Unfortunately, none of that information made it into evidence for this trial.

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