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19.01.2007 Crime & Punishment

'MV Benjamin' Cook Testifies In Coke Case

By William Yaw Owusu
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The only people privy to the contents of the 77 parcels on the board the MV Benjamin vessel escaped before the naval patrol team got to the vessel.

The chief engineer and the captain, whose names were not given, did not disclose the contents until James Kingsley Inkoom, the cook on the vessel, enquired about them from the chief engineer at the breakwaters of the port before he said it was cocaine.

Inkoom said this yesterday when testifying for the prosecution in the trial of Joseph Kojo Dawson, 34, the vessel owner and five others including a Korean and two Chinese for their roles in the missing cocaine at the Tema Port at the Fast Track High Court in Accra.

The others are Pak Bok Sil, a Korean engineer; Isaac Arhin, 49 and Phillip Bruce Arhin, 49, a mechanic. Cui Xian Li, 44, a vessel engineer, and Luo Yui Xing, 49, are the Chinese.

Dawson had pleaded not guilty to using his property for narcotic offences while Bok Sil also pleaded same to one account of engaging in prohibited business relating to narcotic drugs.

Isaac Arhin, Bruce Arhin, Li and Xing have all pleaded not guilty to two counts of engaging in a prohibited business relating to narcotic drugs and possession of narcotic drugs without lawful authority.

Giving an account of what transpired during the voyage, Arhin told the court that he worked for Dashment Fishing Company Limited, owners of the MV Benjamin vessel, between 2002 and 2004 but had to stop when his wife died.

He said he knows Isaac Arhin, Bruce Arhin, Li and Xing and added, 'Dawson was the director of our company but I do not know Bok Sil'.

Inkoom, who is the second prosecution, witness, in the case, said on March 6, 2006, he received a call from Isaac Arhin asking him to proceed to Takoradi for a job.

'I got to the vessel at the Takoradi Harbour at 7am on March 7, 2006, and met Isaac Arhin, Bruce Arhin and Li, chipping and painting the vessel.

'The following day, the chief engineer and the captain came with Xing and introduced him as the one who will help me in the kitchen. I prepared food for them and they all ate'.

He said the chief engineer later in the day, told him that they were taking the vessel on trial to Tema.

'We sailed for almost two weeks but were still not in Tema so I asked the chief engineer where we were going to and he replied that we were going for engine parts.

'After about a week, a small boat got closer to us and they started throwing some things into our vessel. The things are like cartons of fish in sacks.

'We were then asked to pack them in the hatch of our vessel. I asked Isaac Arhin about the contents but he only said they were 77 in number and did not mention to me what were in it.

Inkoom said after about three weeks, they arrived at the Tema Port breakwaters at about 1:30am, anchored and he went to sleep.

'In my sleep I heard an unusual noise so I woke up and saw a canoe ducked by our side. They entered our vessel, opened the hatch and packed what we brought from the high seas.

'I also saw another canoe going round our vessel with three men in it and one of them was holding a gun. The chief engineer and the captain were also holding guns'.

The witness told the court that the chief engineer and the captain later left the vessel and came back at 5pm for their meal.

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