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Sierra Leone national fined UGX 30M for illegal possession, trafficking of narcotics

Sesay Abdul Karim(R) in court. URN photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Entebbe Chief Magistrate’s court has fined a Sierra Leone national Shillings 30 million for unlawful possession of narcotics and trafficking in the same.

Sesay Abdul Karim appeared before Entebbe Chief Magistrate Juliet Nakitende on Monday who fined him Shillings 10 million for unlawful possession of heroin and Shillings 20 million for trafficking heroin via Entebbe International Airport or serve 30 years in jail on his own guilty plea.

During the hearing, the court heard that Karim was found in unlawful possession of 71 pellets of heroin, weighing 126,337 grams contrary to Sections 2 and 4 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act, 2016.

The offence attracts a fine of not less than Shillings 10 million or three times the market value of the drug, whichever is greater, or to imprisonment of not less than ten years but not exceeding twenty-five years or both.

On count two, Karim was accused of trafficking in narcotic drugs contrary to Section 5 of the same act. This offence attracts a fine of not less than shillings 10 million or three times the market value of the narcotic drug or psychotropic substance, whichever is greater, and in addition,to imprisonment for life.”

He was convicted after pleading guilty to both charges.

40-year-old Karim is a store officer at GLS Courier Company and a resident of Free Town, Sierra Leone. On February 19, 2022, Karim intended to travel to Paris, France via Cairo aboard EgyptAir flight number MS838. He was departing from Entebbe International Airport. He was however arrested at around 1:50am the same day at the departure hold baggage screening point inside the passenger terminal building at Entebbe Airport.

Janet Kitimbo, the Resident State Attorney told the court that Karim had a black delsey suitcase that was searched. In the suitcase, 55 pellets of heroin, which had been concealed in a pair of shoes, two pairs of stockings, two pairs of jeans, and two shorts were recovered. She added that after eating food at Aviation Police Station, Karim also defecated 16 pellets between February 19 and 21, bringing the total number of pellets in his possession to 71.

Kitimbo added that  Karim’s passport number ER313643 and that of another identified as Cole Joseph, number  ER205505 were recovered. After Karim pleaded guilty, Kitimbo urged the court to pass a deterrent sentence against Karim because of the rampant number of cases relating to narcotic drugs at Entebbe Airport.

Entebbe Airport is one of the known transit routes for drug traffickers. For instance in 2020, police officers seized 41.9 kilograms of illicit drugs valued at over Shillings 1.7 billion. Also, 7,328 people have been arrested in the last two years for illegally buying, selling, and smuggling intoxicating drugs. However, Karim’s lawyers Christine Tumuhairwe and Bonny Akol asked for leniency.

Tumuhairwe noted that Karim had not wasted court’s time by pleading guilty to the first charge of unlawful possession of heroin, was remorseful, and should thereby pay a fine instead of serving a jail term. Akol agreed, saying Karim aged 40 years is still young and has learnt from his mistake.

Akol and Tumuhairwe said their client will not appeal the sentences. “We preferred a fine of Shillings 20 million but he has been ordered to pay Shillings 30 million or serve 30 years in jail if he fails to pay. So we must ensure he pays the fine as soon as possible,” Tumuhairwe told our reporter.

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