October 25, 2013 (Page 20)
THE Accra Fast Track High Court yesterday ordered the man at the centre of the shipment and disappearance of 77 parcels of cocaine worth $138.6 million to open his defence.
Christian Sheriff Asem Darkei, alias The Limping Man, who is alleged to have played a major role in the shipment 2,310 kilogrammes of cocaine in April 2006, is expected to open his defence on November 7, 2013.
Dismissing a submission of ‘no case’ filed on Sheriff’s behalf by his lawyer, the Presiding Judge, Mr Justice Mustapha Habib Logoh, held that the prosecution had led enough evidence to warrant Sheriff to open his defence.
Sheriff, who was picked up on February 2, 2012 after he had been pursued for years by the security agencies, sat moodily as the presiding judge read out the court’s decision.
A Chief State Attorney, Mrs Yvonne Attakorah-Obuobisa, prosecuted the case, which saw 10 witnesses testifying on behalf of the state.
Sheriff was put before Mr Justice Logoh’s court on May 28, 2012.
The prosecution closed its case on April 23, 2013.
Sheriff was arrested by BNI officials at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital upon a tip off. He had gone to seek medical treatment.
He has pleaded not guilty to the three counts of conspiracy, importation and exportation of narcotic drugs.
Facts of the case
According to the prosecution, around midnight on April 26, 2006, a vessel, the MV Benjamin, reportedly carrying about 77 parcels of cocaine, with each parcel weighing 30 kilogrammes, docked at Kpone/Tema and discharged the parcels of cocaine.
It said the 77 parcels were offloaded into a waiting vehicle which carried them away.
In the course of investigations, Sheriff’s name featured prominently as the importer and/or owner of the drug.
He was said to be the person who had chartered the vessel at a cost of $150,000 to tow another vessel from Guinea to Ghana and subsequently carted the alleged 77 parcels.
Ship Owner Jailed
The disappearance of the cocaine led to the constitution of the Georgina Wood Committee and the subsequent trial of persons alleged to have played various roles in the importation.
In July 2008, the Accra Fast Track High Court, presided over by Mr Justice Anin Yeboah (now a Supreme Court judge), convicted and sentenced Joseph Kojo Dawson, the owner of the MV Benjamin and Managing Director of Dashment Company Limited; Isaac Arhin, a sailor; Phillip Bruce Arhin, a mechanic; Cui Xian Li, the vessel engineer, and Luo Yui Xing, a sailor, all crew members of the MV Benjamin, to 25 years in prison each with hard labour.
Bruce Arhin, however, died barely three weeks after his conviction.
The convicts, including the deceased, were found guilty of charges of using property for narcotic offences, engaging in prohibited business relating to narcotics and possession of narcotic drugs without lawful authority.
A sixth accused person, Pak Bok Sil, a Korean, was, on Tuesday, October 16, 2007, acquitted and discharged by the court, which had held, during a ruling on a submission of ‘no case’, that the prosecution had failed to prove a case against Sil.