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Suspected wildlife trafficker on US ‘wanted list’ to remain in police custody (Kenya)

By October 5, 2020Law & legislation

Suspected wildlife trafficker Mansur Mohamed Surur alias Mansour at Milimani law courts yesterday on September 30, 2020. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) wants him extradited to the United States for a criminal trial in relation to at least five criminal offences involving illegal ivory trade and money laundering. The application will be heard on October 7. Photo: Joseph Wangui as originally published by the Nation.

Joseph Wangui, The Nation | October 1, 2020

Read the original story here.

A suspected wildlife trafficker, who is wanted by the United States for a criminal trial, will remain in police custody pending determination of his application to be released on bail.

Milimani Chief Magistrate Martha Mutuku said on Wednesday that the ruling on the application by Mansur Mohamed Surur alias Mansour is not ready.

As a result, the court ordered that he be detained until October 7 when the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) will also present an application for his extradition to the US.

Fight Extradition

The court granted Mansour six days to respond to the extradition application after his lawyers said they needed time to file a substantive response.

They, however, pointed out that their client is opposed to the extradition and among the questions he will raise in his response is whether the offences levelled against him can be tried in Kenya.

During the hearing of the DPP’s application, Mansour may call witnesses to help him fight the extradition, the court heard. He will also raise the issue of whether the court has jurisdiction.

State Counsel Catherine Mwaniki told the magistrate that she will produce one witness to prove to court that Mansour is a fugitive. In arguing her case, Ms Mwaniki said she will produce documents from the government of the United States.

The court heard that Mansour has already been served with the extradition request documents and so he is aware of the evidence that is against him.

The magistrate ordered the transfer of the 60-year-old man from Capitol Hill police station in the City to ICD station in Athi River due to congestion at the former.

Court documents indicate that Mansour, who holds a dual citizenship of Kenya and Yemen, is wanted in the US for a trial in relation to at least five criminal offences involving illegal ivory trade and money laundering.

The US government issued a warrant for his arrest following his indictment by a New York court for conspiracy to commit wildlife trafficking, money laundering and conspiracy to distribute and possess narcotic drugs.

On August 8, 2019, the Interpol forwarded to Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) the requisite Red Notice indicating that Mansour and his colleague Badru Abdul Aziz Saleh were wanted in the US for the crimes.

Escape from Kenya

Mansour was arrested on July 29 this year at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa upon arrival from Yemen on a chartered flight. According to the court documents, he escaped from Kenya in July 2019. At the time, the government was processing the extradition of Saleh to the US.

Mr Mansour left Kenya and went to Yemen through South Sudan and Sudan. He arrived in South Sudan on July 28, 2019 and went to Sudan two days later. He finally arrived in Yemen on August 3, 2019, after avoiding countries where the Red Notice would have helped to identify him.

The DPP told the court that Kenya and the US do not have any extradition treaties with countries such as Yemen, Sudan and South Sudan. Therefore, should Mansour be granted bail or bond, there is a high possibility he will escape again and skip court dates.

The State also fears that it would be impossible to prevail upon countries such as Yemen to return its national or any other person within its borders to Kenya or to the US to be prosecuted.

Police Inspector Alibashir Olow told the court that Kenya is obligated to carry out its duties under various United Nations conventions.