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Akashas face life sentences in US

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International narcotics traffickers Baktash and Ibrahim Akasha could be handed sentences of life imprisonment in separate court sessions scheduled to take place in New York this week.

The Kenyan brothers both pleaded guilty in October to several violations of US drug laws, including a conspiracy to smuggle 99 kilogrammes of heroin and two kilos of methamphetamine into the United States.

The Akashas also admitted to obstructing justice by systematically bribing Kenyan police officers, judges and a prosecutor in an attempt to prevent their extradition to the US.

None of the Kenyans who took payoffs have so far been named in the proceedings in US federal court in Manhattan.

As part of an agreement with prosecutors reached before their guilty pleas, the brothers are facing prison terms ranging from 10 years to life with no possibility of parole.

The plea deal also stipulates that the Akashas may each be fined in amounts ranging from $50,000 (Sh5m) to $10 million. The brothers further agreed to forfeit all the money they pocketed from their illicit drug trade. Those sums are not specified in US court documents.

In accordance with the plea bargain, the brothers have agreed not to appeal the sentences to be imposed by presiding Judge Victor Marrero.

READ ALSO:   Prominent Kenyans to face US trial over Akasha drugs

Ibrahim, 29, is set to learn his fate on Thursday, while Baktash, 42, is due to be sentenced on Friday.

Judge Marrero has the discretion to put each of the Akashas away for however long he deems fit. And it is possible that he will sentence Baktash to a term longer than Ibrahim’s.

US prosecutors have depicted the elder brother as the head of the Akashas’ long-standing drug empire based in Mombasa. Ibrahim, the prosecutors say, functioned as Baktash’s deputy.

They describe Baktash in court papers as “a lifelong criminal of epic proportions”.

The US government’s attorneys have also sought to link Baktash to the 2014 contract killing in South Africa of a drug gangster identified only as “Pinky.” The older Akasha has not been formally charged with involvement in that murder, but US prosecutors have introduced this element into his case in order to amplify their call for imposing a maximum sentence on Baktash.

The brothers have already been confined in New York detention centres for more than two-and-a-half years. The time they have been held has been stretched out due to a number of postponements in their trial and sentencing dates, mostly in response to requests by defence lawyers.

The Akashas and two other alleged leaders of their organisation were brought to New York at the end of January in 2017. Kenyan authorities handed the four men over to US Drug Enforcement Agency officials even though extradition proceedings had not been concluded in their cases.

READ ALSO:   Prominent Kenyans to face US trial over Akasha drugs

Judge Marrero subsequently rejected claims by defence attorneys that the US court system had no right to adjudicate the Akashas’ case because the brothers had in effect been kidnapped from Kenya. Officials in Nairobi said the four men had been “expelled” from Kenya.

The other two figures in the drug case — India national Vijay Goswami, described as the manager of the Akasha Organisation, and Gulam Hussein, a Pakistani said to be the head of the Kenya-based drug-transport network — have not pleaded guilty to the charges against them Neither has been scheduled for a court hearing. Defence attorneys and US prosecutors have not responded to press queries as to the two men’s status.

Goswami is believed to have agreed last year to co-operate with the prosecution. His apparent willingness to implicate the two brothers in multiple crimes is thought to have led the Akashas’ attorneys to make a plea deal with US authorities rather than pressing ahead with a costly trial.

Hussein may also have agreed to work with US prosecutors.

In an effort to win less-than-lifetime sentences for the Akashas, their defence attorneys have told Judge Marrero that the brothers have serious health issues.

Ibrahim is said to have been receiving mental health counselling while in detention due to depression. Baktash suffers from diabetes, hypertension, ulcers and “morbid obesity,” and has attempted suicide, according to defence attorney George Goltzer.

READ ALSO:   Prominent Kenyans to face US trial over Akasha drugs

The lawyer told the judge that Baktash is the victim of an abusive upbringing that included sexual molestation by several of the elder Akasha’s half-brothers.

Mr Goltzer has also sought to soften Baktash’s admission of obstructing justice by arguing that bribes paid to Kenyan officials reflected widespread and routine corruption in Kenyan society.

By nation.co.ke


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Lifestyle

Female client smashed my windscreen with a gun – Bolt driver

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A Bolt driver was on Wednesday night left with a broken windscreen after a female client allegedly smashed it with a firearm in a row over Sh320 fare.

According to the driver, Brown Mwangi who posted his predicament on the Uber drivers Facebook page, his client was being dropped in Karen’s Kwarara road when the incident happened.

The driver added that the lady asked him to leave her premises immediately after dropping her off.

He said she told him that the money she owed him would be sent to him by her boyfriend later.

“Upon arrival she told me to go eti her boyfriend will send me money 320. I insisted I will pack outside the gate till my money is sent,” Mwangi wrote.

It is then that the client reportedly left for the house and returned with a gun and smashed the car windscreen.

She further bragged to the driver that she was the daughter of a big shot lawyer.

“She later went inside came with gun and smashed my car windscreen saying her father is a big lawyer and I will take her nowhere. I managed to drive all the way to Hardy police station,” Mwangi added.

READ ALSO:   Prominent Kenyans to face US trial over Akasha drugs

On Thursday Mwangi mentioned that the matter was being handled by his lawyers.

“I had to go see my lawyers for advice. Now heading to Hardy police station meeting the OCS,” he added.

He also said he had received another windscreen from well-wishers to replace his smashed one.

“Abt wind screen I have already received new windscreen to be fix tomorrow from some well wishers free of change,” he said.

by NN


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Ditch fancy hairstyles, makeup police boss orders female officers

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The National Police Service (NPS) has been asked to ensure that female police officers are not violating the service’s prescribed dress code.

In a communication circular made on Wednesday, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Edward Mbugua said it had been observed that female officers were wearing their hair in unacceptable styles which violate the dress code.

Mr Mbugua asked female cops to ensure they have proper inconspicuous hairstyles that do not interfere with the wearing of headgear and avoid unnatural makeup.

“I draw your attention on service standing orders Chapter 11 dress-code regulations which stipulates clearly on how officers should wear their hair,” reads part of the circular.

The regulations require female police officers to style their hair in a way that does not extend beyond the collar of their blouse, interfere with wearing of all official headgear and not fall over the ears or on the forehead.

According to the code, officers’ hair should not be dyed in conspicuous unnatural colors, and where accessories are used to secure the hair, they should be plain in design and of a color that blends with the hair.

For female officers using make-up, Mbugua indicated that it should be subtle, discreet, and only natural and clear polish may be used.

READ ALSO:   Prominent Kenyans to face US trial over Akasha drugs

Nail extensions are prohibited while tattoos shall be covered at all times.

The police boss also ordered all regional commanders to ensure the dress code is strictly observed by their juniors, with action to be taken against those who violate.

In August, Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai asked all officers to observe high etiquette, especially on social media, in circular dated August 4, 2020 and titled ‘Dress Code Regulations’.

The IG pointed out that disregard of the dress code violates regulations as provided under Chapter 31 of the Service Standing Orders (SSO).

“Police uniforms should not be worn with any visible article of civilian clothing, articles or anything that is not police uniform. Mixing of uniform will not be allowed,” Mutyambai said in the letter.

He also cautioned officers against uploading videos on social media while dancing or uttering obscene words while in police uniform.

Mutyambai further directed police bosses to ensure compliance of these guidelines by officers under their command.

By NN


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Business

Top athlete turns to jiko-making to beat pandemic

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They say a man must do what a man must do.

This idiom has become a reality to Dominic Samson Ndigiti, the reigning Africa U20 10,000 metres walk race champion and former World U17 10,000 metres walk race bronze medalist during the Covid-19 times.

Ndigiti, who has won Kenya a gold medal at the Africa Under-20 Championships held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, has been crisscrossing the country, doing what he now loves to do most: Making affordable, energy-saving jikos – charcoal cooking stoves.

Coronavirus pandemic

Though the walking race champion learnt the skills of making this particular kind of jiko in 2018 when in Finland where he had gone for a competition, he did not put them to use until when coronavirus hit the world, putting a break on most sporting activities.

“I saw the whites making the jikos in 2018 when we had gone to Finland for Under20 competitions. It took a week for me to learn. But I started being serious when coronavirus hit us. The jikos now earn me a living,” he said.

The 20-year-old says the modern jikos use charcoal or firewood.

The jikos are of different sizes and can fit in any kind of house be it permanent, temporary or semi-permanent.

“I do not discriminate for which house to make my jikos. Charges vary according to sizes. A one-stoned jiko goes for Sh3,000, two 4,500, three 6,000 and four and above goes for Sh10,000,” said Ndigiti.

He says that materials needed include cement, clay bricks, fireproof and red-oxide paint.

Different work

Ndigiti says many people see him as a successful person owing to his record in the walking race, but the tough times have forced him to work differently.

“I am grateful because Kenyans have responded very well to my venture. I have visited many counties in the past few months, making jikos. Before coronavirus, I did not know my home county of Kisii well, though I have was born and brought up here, but making jikos has made me a tourist,” he said.

Ndigiti, who hails from Marani sub-county in Kisii County, schooled at Kiandega High School in Nyamira county and developed a passion for the walking race while in Standard Six.

He says he was inspired by his teachers.

The IAAF World U18 Championships is an international event bringing together athletes from all over the world who are 17 or younger.

“Coronavirus brought a lot of problems in the world and we couldn’t go out to compete. I hope this will end soon. But this pandemic has made me learn the hard way. Talents are to be exploited, no matter how much little income they bring,” said Ndigiti.

He is hopeful that after the pandemic, he will represent Kenya in the Olympics and will bring home a gold medal.

Ndigiti comes from a humble family and his success in the walking race has not taken away his humility.

Ruth Mbula | Nation Media Group

“We live life easy. Living well with people has taught me a lot during this coronavirus time. The requests to make more jikos is overwhelming,” he said, adding that Elgeyo Marakwet Woman Rep Jane Kiptoo has already asked for his help in making more than 100 jikos for women groups.

He says most of his clients are women. “They have embraced my idea of making our kitchens look better.”


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