By Reuben Olita in Kenya
Two Ugandans held in Kenya since June 5, 2010 over unlawful trafficking of cocaine worth Ksh85m (sh2.6b) were on Friday fined Ksh 254m (sh7.6b) and jailed for life by a Nairobi court.
John Mugisha and Ann Bisaso broke into tears when the charges were read to them by Kibera Principal Magistrate Laetisha Wachira.
Bisaso, pictured right, pleaded for mercy saying she is a single mother while Mugisha said he needs to spend time with his young family.
But the Magistrate dismissed their pleas, saying the law on drug trafficking was severe and that the sentence handed to them was justified.
However, they were given two weeks to appeal.
Mugisha had claimed the police framed up charges on him after he was found with no drugs but the prosecution was categorical that he processed Bisaso’s travel documents and that the keys to the boxes that were impounded by police were found on him.
In sentencing them, Wachira said the prosecution had established that the two had indeed trafficked drugs.
Prosecutor Chief Inspector Justus Imaana had asked that Bisaso be treated as a first-time offender as she has no previous such records in Kenya or in Uganda.
Mugisha had a previous conviction in Kenya for trying to escape from Kamiti Prison and is serving a two-year sentence.
The duo was arrested at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) with cocaine which they tried to conceal.
The Kenyan court heard that Bisaso was duped by Mugisha that she was travelling to Peru as a United Nations logistics officer to collect UNDP documents and that she had been promised a job by the U.N.
However, the magistrate heard none of her defence, arguing that the accused knew what she was carrying and had only tried to hide the truth.
Police records showed the Ugandan posed as a UNDP programme manager and Uganda’s Foreign Affairs ministry official when she was nabbed.
Court records showed that the cocaine was packed in black boxes with UNDP logos and labelled with ‘diplomatic bag’.
Police at JKIA believed the labels on the boxes had helped her evade detection at other international airports.
The alert on consignment’s arrival at JKIA was through a tip off to the police by a reported rival drug cartel in Nairobi. When she was stopped by the police at JKIA, she flushed out a UNDP identification card which later emerged to be fake.