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10.01.2007 Crime & Punishment

Panamanian in court for allegedly dropping cocaine in yoghurt container

By myjoyonline
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A 33-year-old Panamanian alleged to have dropped a bag containing 15 kilograms of drugs suspected to be cocaine in a shipment of yoghurt appeared at an Accra Circuit Court on Wednesday.

Ricado Gooding, whose plea was not taken, is facing a charge of importing narcotic drugs without lawful authority.

Meanwhile three persons namely Michael Ayache, Managing Director of Market Direct Company Limited, and two other shipping agents, who were arrested earlier, have also been remanded in custody by the same court.

Ayache and the two shipping agents Isaac Quansah and Mohammed Salami are also being held for illegally importing narcotic substances. Their pleas were not taken.

They are to reappear on January 12.

When the case of Ayache and two others were called, Sam Okudjeto, lead counsel, prayed the Court to release his clients as the person connected to the bag containing the drugs had been nabbed and was in court.

Mr Okudjeto said: "The factual situation negates the charges brought against the accused persons in the dock.

"The accused persons were no where near when the container was being loaded, we only gave the bill of lading to the qualified persons to work on it. How could we be held for the said bag containing the drugs?"

Ms Gertrude Aikins, a Chief State Attorney, said her outfit would “need to check on a few things outside the country to enable us determine the fate of the three accused persons.

"We will receive the required information from INTERPOL tomorrow and we are asking that the case be adjourned to Friday to enable us to decide on the person to be charged," she said.

In the case of Gooding, Ms Aikins, who is also the Acting Director of Public Prosecution, said he was arrested with one Mustapha of Nima, now at large.

She said Gooding had overstayed his 30 day tourist visa but, “we are now going to investigate the case against him".
We had reports that he was the one who allegedly opened the seal of the container. We have to investigate how he managed to do that."

Ms Aikins, therefore, prayed for an adjournment.

But Gooding's counsel Mr Kwablah Senanu refuted the Prosecution's assertion saying he did not know why he has been arrested.

According to Mr Senanu, his client was arrested on December 24, 2006, adding that he has not been told why he was arrested.

The Court adjourned Gooding's case to February 9.

On December 12, 2006, the Organised Crime Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service had information that some drugs had been concealed in a container loaded with other goods.

The container with registration number MSKY 6646380 was imported by the Market Direct Company Limited, an Accra company. It arrived from Peru and was awaiting clearance at Maersk Sealand, Tema.

It said when the container was opened on December 12 2006 in the presence of Police, Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) and the clearing agents, a bag containing 15 slabs of narcotic drugs suspected to be cocaine was found on the imported yoghurt drinks.

The Prosecution said Ayache was arrested but he denied any knowledge and ownership of the drugs.

Source: GNA

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