You are currently viewing Court Updates – #125: CF 1132/2015 Mombasa – Republic versus Abdurahman Mahmoud Sheikh @ Said Juma Said and 8 Others
1132/15 Mombasa

Court Updates – #125: CF 1132/2015 Mombasa – Republic versus Abdurahman Mahmoud Sheikh @ Said Juma Said and 8 Others

#125 is a number assigned indicating this seizure has a link(s) to the Kromah cartel and its ivory was not DNA analyzed.

L to R: Abdurahman Mahmoud Sheikh, his half brother, father, and 3 other accused in Mombasa court for April 25th, 2015 Thailand seizure

OVERVIEW

On April 25th, 2015, customs officials at Laem Chabang port (Bangkok, Thailand) intercepted a sea borne container from Mombasa and found it to  contain 3127 kg of elephant ivory. The shipment was declared as tea leaves, which it did in fact, also carry.

Three weeks later, on May 16th, 2015, Singapore authorities seized a container declared as tea leaves but found to also contain 1783 pieces of ivory, 5 rhino horn and 23 lion’s teeth total weight coming in at approximately 4600 kg.  (Reported in media as 3364 kg)

Subsequent investigation led to charges against nine individuals for the Thailand seizure only:

    1. Abdurahman Mahmoud Sheikh aka Said Juma Said
    2. Sheikh Mahmoud Abdurahman 
    3. Mahmoud Abdurahman Sheikh
    4. Lucy Muthoni Kahoto (KRA)
    5. Musa Jacob Lithare
    6. Samuel Mbote Mundia (associate of Jefwa’s, taxi driver)
    7. Salim Mohamed Juma Khamisi (driver for A#1)
    8. Abbasi Issa Rashid (driver for Sheikh’s)
    9. Kenneth Mwangi Njunga (Njuguna) (lorry driver)

Arrest warrants were issued for two brothers who were alleged to be the prime logisticians:

    1. Nicholas Mweri Jefwa
    2. Samuel Bakari Jefwa

The Jefwa brothers have been on the Interpol Red Notice list since October 2016 and not yet apprehended.  Reports from several unrelated sources indicate that they are being protected from a high level politician(s).

The trial relating to this Thailand seizure has been plagued with delays, typical of major Kenyan wildlife prosecutions and is now in its 8th year. As example, the court sat 29 times before the first witness testified, two years and two months from the first arrests.

At the time of the seizure, Thailand alleged that much of the ivory had been previously seized (which Kenya refuted) and Kenya attempted to have the ivory repatriated as evidence. This has not occurred.

 

3127 kg of ivory seized in Thailand on April 25th, 2015. Laos was the intended destination.

COURT PROGRESS

Before Honourable Chief Magistrate Martha Mutuku, Mombasa Court 1

March 6th, 2023 (next scheduled hearing):

*****************

November 16th, 2022 (hearing): DPP represented by Senior Principal Prosecution Counsel Jami Yamina, advised the court that they were unable to proceed and requested an adjournment and fresh date.  He had just been advised by the IO (investigating officer) that there had been challenges in having the last five witnesses to attend.  One was on other duties in Northern Kenya, one was out of the country one was on annual leave and one was unwell.

Mr. Gakuhi Gakue, today representing all accused (meaning that they had been given a heads up for the adjournment request), stated that all witnesses are public officers and there should not have been a problem having them attend.
 
Chief Magistrate Mutuku permitted the adjournment but put DPP on notice that this is the last one.
 
All remaining prosecution witnesses are to testify on the next hearing dates of March 6th and 7th, 2023.
 
*****************
September 6th, 2022 (mention): All accused present. DPP represented by Mr Kituma, the usual prosecutor for court one.  CM Mutuku admonished advocate Jared Magolo, for his clients being late the day previous.
 
Hearing date set for November 16th.
 
******************
 
September 5th, 2022 (mention):  Accused #2,#3 and #7 absent when the case was called, apparently on their way. DPP Mr. Kituma presented a message from Senior Principal Prosecution Counsel Jami Yamina, that the IO’s statement was not yet complete.
 
As three of the accused were absent, the case was put over to the following day.
 
********************
 
July 14th, 2022 (application hearing):  This scheduled hearing did not happen. Senior Principal Prosecution Counsel Jami Yamina introduced his argument by stating that at the time this prosecution began (and he was part of the DPP team at the time) his 7 year old son had not been born.
 
Mr. Jami continued by advising the court that the DPP was withdrawing their application of May 24th, 2021 (new evidence application) to allow the trial to continue to its logical conclusion. He attributed the one of the primary causes of the delays to date could be attributed to the complexities of the mutual legal assistance request submitted to Thailand.  He also had a further statement from Chief Superintendent J. Githinji relating to this investigation that was to be copied to the defence.
 
September 5th agreed as the next mention date to set further hearing dates.
 
**********************
 
June 29th, 2022 (application hearing): DPP Kituma holding brief for Mr. Jami. Mr Magolo and Gikue present for the defence and all accused present except of A#4 who resides in Nairobi.
 
Mr. Jami was in Nairobi for another matter so hearing adjourned to July 14th.  The accused’s attendance dispensed with.
 
*********************
 
March 17th, 2022 (application hearing):
Chief Magistrate Mutuku not sitting so all matters adjourned.  This case adjourned to June 29th.
 
**********************
 
January 17th, 2022 (Application Hearing): Mr. Ratemo absent for A#5 and A#7.  DPP reluctant to proceed. Defence request new hearing date. The attendance of all accused disposed with.
 
 
 
October 25th, 2022(Mention): before CM Mutuku, S/C Alex Kituma. Hearing date set for January 17th and presence of accused dispensed with. It was ordered that all proceedings to be typed.

 

***********************

 
Note: This is a work in progress – 50+ more court sitting dates to be added
FILE CF 1132/15
SEIZURE DATE April 25th, 2015
LOCATION Port Laem Chabang, Bangkok, Thailand
LISTED DESTINATION Laos
SEIZED WEIGHT 3127 kg
SEIZED DESCRIPTION 511 tusk pieces in sisal bags. The bags found matched those found in the May 16th Singapore seizure.
OTHER CONTRABAND
POINT OF ORIGIN Not confirmed
POINT OF ORIGIN DNA The seized ivory has not been analysed for DNA.
TRANSIT POINTS
VALUE KSh 570 million (USD $5 million+)
COVER LOAD Tea Leaves
DECLARED AS Tea Leaves
EXPORTER CONSIGNOR Almasi Chai; Potential Quality Supplies
IMPORTER CONSIGNEE Keshav Traders, Dubai; Soupha Song Import-Export Co,Lao; Van An Co. Ltd, Da Nang, Vietnam
CLEARING AGENT FREIGHT FOWARDER Siginon Freight Services Limited
SHIPPING AGENT Rais Shipping Services (Kenya) Ltd.
SHIPPING LINE_SHIPS Cape Moss; RHL Felicitas
CONTAINERS/MODE OF TRANSPORT FCIU 5235796 20'
ASSOCIATED VEHICLES KNY 944 delivered the container
CONNECTIONS Numerous - see 'Linkages' below.

Thai customs seize 511 pieces of elephant ivory destined for Laos

Three-tonne haul, marked as tea leaves from Kenya, is second massive seizure in less than a week of elephant tusks from Africa bound for Laos 
Agence France-Presse
 
Mon 27 Apr 2015 10.48 BST
 
More than three tonnes of elephant ivory have been found at a Thai port stashed in a container shipped from Kenya, customs said on Monday, the second huge haul of tusks from Africa in less than a week.
 
The discovery, which would be worth millions of dollars on the black market, was destined for Laos where the illegal ivory trade flourishes.
 
Some 511 pieces of ivory was found on 25 April in a container “marked as tea leaves transported from Mombasa, Kenya, and on to Laos”, Thai customs said in a statement.
 
Scores of whole tusks – some nearly two metres long – were among the pieces seized.
 
A record four tonnes of African elephant ivory was seized at Bangkok’s main port on 20 April in a container that arrived from the Democratic Republic of Congo and was also destined for Laos.
 
Once in neighbouring Laos, authorities believe the ivory would likely be sold on to buyers from China, Vietnam or back into Thailand, countries where ivory ornaments are coveted despite fears the trade is pushing wild elephants to extinction.
 
Laos “is increasingly being used as a major transit point for such large volumes of illicit ivory and other wildlife products”, Chris Shepherd of conservation group Traffic told AFP.
 
“The increase in large-scale seizures is of great concern. Whether the ivory is coming from freshly killed elephants, or from stockpiles of ivory in Africa, needs to be investigated,” he added.
 
Poaching and conflict has destroyed large numbers of African elephants in the wild, prompting experts to warn the species could be wiped out within decades.
 
Thailand has launched a crackdown on the ivory trade amid mounting international pressure.
 
The Global regulator, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) has threatened an international ban on Thailand’s entire wildlife business if it fails to curb the trade in tusks on its soil.
 
Under Thai law, registered ivory from domesticated Thai elephants can be sold. But experts say that loophole allows criminal gangs to launder poached African ivory through the kingdom.
 
Thailand’s fishing industry is also under scrutiny for exploitation of migrant workers and over-fishing.
 
Thailand is the world’s third largest seafood producer and an EU ban could cost it around $1bn (£660,000) annually.
 
Nyali area home leased to Said Juma Said alias Abdurahman Mahmoud Sheikh. The home contained evidence suggesting that it was being utilised as an ivory collection point.

Tusks were court evidence, say Thai officials

Saturday May 2 2015

 In Summary

  • “Most of them were the tusks earlier seized and sent back to their origins in Africa whereas some were those having been kept as evidence in some countries,” said Gen Dapong.
  • “Ivory is being stolen from the courtrooms. There is a lot of corruption, and many government officers are involved in facilitating the traffickers,” she stated.
  • KWS spokesman Paul Gathitu said the corporation would be ascertaining the origin of the ivory: “This week we should be able to have investigated and established that court case evidence is being stolen and resold as claimed or not”.
 
Part of the massive ivory haul seized in Thailand was prosecution evidence stolen from Kenyan courts and reshipped to Bangkok.
 
Thailand’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dapong Rattanasuwan and Director-General of Customs Somchai Sujjapongse told the media that they had reshipped seized ivory to Kenya to be used as evidence against ivory traffickers, only for the same consignment to find its way back to the Asian country last week.
 
The revelations have raised questions about the role of the Judiciary, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Ports Authority officials and police officers in the international criminal enterprise that fans poaching.
 
“Most of them were the tusks earlier seized and sent back to their origins in Africa whereas some were those having been kept as evidence in some countries,” said Gen Dapong.
 
On April 25, Thailand’s Customs Department seized 511 elephant tusks that had been declared at the customs office as 11 tonnes of tea leaves from Kenya destined for Laos.
 
Environment Secretary Judi Wakhungu promised to investigate how the ivory left Mombasa without detection.
 
The Sunday Nation has established that a criminal enterprise involving Kenyans and foreigners is involved in stealing and reselling ivory used as evidence against poachers in court cases. The syndicate is run from Asia and has major operations in Kenya.
 
A top Judiciary official told the Sunday Nation that the Judiciary does not have a strong room to keep the evidence.
 
“The evidence like ivory is presented to court by KWS [Kenya Wildlife Service] and the prosecutors who return it to their strong rooms,” said the official, who is not authorised to speak to the media.
 
STOLEN FROM COURTROOMS
 
Yesterday, Paula Kahumbu, the executive director of Wildlife Direct, a non-governmental organisation involved in conservation, said that ivory is stolen from courts and resold.
 
“Ivory is being stolen from the courtrooms. There is a lot of corruption, and many government officers are involved in facilitating the traffickers,” she stated.  Ms Kahumbu said that Kenya is now the leading transit route for ivory traffickers in the world.
 
“Containers filled with ivory are passing through Malaba, Lunga Lunga to the Mombasa port for onward shipping to Asian markets,” she said.
 
KWS spokesman Paul Gathitu said the corporation would be ascertaining the origin of the ivory: “This week we should be able to have investigated and established that court case evidence is being stolen and resold as claimed or not”.
 
KRA chief manager Maureen Njongo said investigation had begun into the matter: “The case is intricate and involves a lot of work to establish the facts”.
 
According to Traffic, a wildlife trade monitoring network, ivory trafficking is a sophisticated transnational crime that involves elephant poaching in protected areas and orchestrated theft of government-held ivory.
 
The cartels also use money laundering, tax evasion and other forms of economic subterfuge to hide profits and other evidence of financial dealings. In the report, Traffic says Kenya is a major transit route for ivory trade. Ivory passing though the Mombasa port is sent to Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and United Arab Emirates before ending up in either Thailand or China.
 
A recent survey by the non-profit Wildlife Direct found that that police carry out shoddy investigations, resulting in a high number of acquittals, something that is feeding ivory trafficking.
 

POLICE HUNT FOR TANZANIAN, KENYAN BROTHERS LINKED TO SH570 MILLION IVORY HAUL

May 25, 2015
Daily Nation

Detectives hunting for officials of Potential Quality Services transport company linked to the contraband seized in Singapore.

In Summary

Investigations show that he, a senior Kenya Revenue Authority staff and a government official were behind the haul.

Also being sought are two brothers, Mr Samuel Jefwa and Mr Nicholas Jefwa, who are officials of Potential Quality Services.

KRA has also written to both Interpol, Singapore and Thailand to assist its investigations into the case.

Detectives have for the second time interrogated staff at Siginon Freight in Shimanzi, Mombasa, where it was established that the initial cargo, blended tea, was parked into 220 bags on April 19.

Police are hunting for a Tanzanian who had rented a house in Nyali, Mombasa, in connection with the Sh570 million ivory haul seized in Singapore last week.

Investigations show that he, a senior Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) staff and a government official were behind the contraband.

Also being sought are two brothers, Mr Samuel Jefwa and Mr Nicholas Jefwa, who are officials of Potential Quality Services, the company that exported the container in which the contraband was shipped.

The two have been exporting 40-foot containers disguised as tea consignments since last year.

PRIME SUSPECTS

“The two prime suspects are still at large. However, efforts to locate them have been intensified through the inter-forum agencies dealing with this matter, including the National Police Service,” said Ms Maureen Njongo, the KRA spokesperson.

The Tanzanian has rented the house since 2013.

However, a rental agent associated with the house told detectives that the tenant had not provided any identification documents.

He would pay his rent in cash and was never issued with any receipts, he said.

BROTHERS ON THE RUN

A senior police officer involved in the investigations on Monday said the two brothers are suspected to have fled to unknown destinations through Uganda.

“Their mobile phones were active and were last used at the Busia border. We, however, do not rule out the possibility that they could be in the country,” he said.

KRA has also written to both Interpol, Singapore and Thailand to assist its investigations into the case.

Detectives have, for the second time, interrogated staff at Siginon Freight in Shimanzi, Mombasa, where it was established that the initial cargo, blended tea, was parked into 220 bags on April 19.

The two containers then left Siginon on April 19 and 20 and arrived at the port for loading onto the vessels Cape Moss and Cape Madrid, respectively. 

RHINO HORNS

On April 27 and May 19, the illegal consignments of ivory and rhino horns were seized in Thailand and Singapore, respectively. 

Potential Quality Services made arrangements for transporting the containers and it has been established that Mr Nicholas Jefwa gave Siginon the blending instructions from the shipper, Almasi Chai (Kenya).

However, the documents releasing the containers were signed by his brother, Samuel.

The two lorries used to ferry the cargo, registration numbers KNY 944 and KSM 783, were also impounded in Mikindani and later moved to the customs warehouse.

“The owner of the two trucks has also recorded a second statement further to the one earlier statement made at Port Police,” Ms Njongo said.

 

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