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Kenyan Court Dismisses Drugs Case Against British Aristocrat

The Guardian, UK: Kenya’s high court has acquitted a British aristocrat of smuggling cocaine in a shipment of sugar, ending a high-profile case that focused public interest on how the justice system would treat the scion of a prominent colonial-era family.

A stash of 100kg, said to be worth around $6m, was seized from a shipping container owned by the sugar trader Jack Marrian in the Kenyan port of Mombasa in July 2016. Marrian’s colleague Roy Mwanthi was also charged, and his case was also dropped.

Marrian, the grandson of a Scottish earl, has always maintained that they were framed. The prosecution applied to terminate the case for lack of evidence, but six weeks ago a magistrate in a lower court refused to drop the charges.

“The court was in essence directing a prosecution against accused persons against the wish of the prosecution, without a complainant and a prosecutor,” the judge, Luka Kimaru, wrote in Thursday’s ruling dismissing the case.

“Hugely relieved that after so long the prosecution has had the courage to do the right thing,” Marrian told Reuters.

During the trial, the defence team presented a letter from the US Drug Enforcement Administration stating that Marrian, 33, could have had no knowledge that the drugs were stashed in a shipment that was en route from Brazil to Uganda.

The grandson of the sixth Earl of Cawdor, Marrian grew up in Kenya, where his grandfather was a minister in the colonial government before independence in 1963.

Mombasa is a favoured port of entry for drug traffickers in east Africa, where the smuggling of cocaine, heroin, cannabis and amphetamine-type stimulants is on the rise, according to the United Nations.

Corruption among law enforcement and customs officials make the region a convenient transit point for drug trafficking to the rest of the continent, Europe, and north America.

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