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11.01.2007 Crime & Punishment

Panamese Remanded In Cocaine Case

By Daily Graphic
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A Panamese, Ricardo Gooding, 33, believed to be the star accomplice in the alleged importation of 15 kilogrammes of suspected cocaine in a consignment of yoghurt shipped into the country, was yesterday remanded together with three others by an Accra circuit court.

The three others are the Managing Director of Market Direct Company Limited, Michael Ayache, Isaac Quansah and Mohammed Salami, both clearing agents.

They have been charged with the illegal importation of narcotic drugs. Their pleas have not been taken and the court remanded the three to reappear on January 12, 2007 while Gooding will reappear on February 9, 2007.

The facts of the case as presented by the prosecution were that on December 12, this year, the Organised Crime Unit of the Criminal Investigations 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 and imported by Market Direct Company Limited, a company located on the Spintex Road in Accra, had 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 the police, officials of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) and the clearing agents, a bag found on top of the imported yoghurt drinks contained 15 slabs of narcotic drugs suspected to be cocaine.

When Ayache was arrested he denied any knowledge and ownership of the drugs, therefore, Quansah and Salami were also arrested to assist in investigations.

It said Ayache claimed to have imported the yoghurt on the Internet through an agent known as Claudio Mollo in Argentina.

Gooding was arrested at Nima on Christmas eve upon a tip-off. Mr Sam Okudjeto, counsel for the three Ghanaians, prayed the court to release his clients because the factual situation of the case negated the charges brought against them.

He said there was no criminology against the accused persons when the particulars of the case were examined and that the suspect alleged to have put the substance in the container had been arrested and sent to court.

Counsel argued that his clients were entitled to their freedom because they were not present when the container was being loaded and especially when the police received information that someone had placed the substance in the container.

The acting Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Ms Gertrude Aikins, told the court that the prosecution received the docket on the case from the police last Monday and had studied it.

According to her, the prosecution had to check on a few things outside the country to enable them to decide on the fate of the accused persons.

She said since the prosecution would receive the required information from Interpol today, the application of the accused persons had to be adjourned to enable the prosecution to decide on the proper people to be charged.

“My Lord I am speaking with the wisdom of hindsight”, Ms Aikins said. The court sustained the facts as presented until Friday.

In the case of Gooding, his counsel, Mr Kwabla Senanu, said he was in court without knowing his offence.

Story by Stephen Sah

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