27 January 2009

Sierra Leone: 'Cocaine Plane Was Bound for Country'

Freetown — First accused in the ongoing cocaine trial at the High Court and pilot of the July 12 cocaine plane, has revealed in court that the substance was indeed bound for Sierra Leone.

George Aritsozabel Archilla said he was working on instructions that he should deliver the consignment of cocaine at the Lungi international airport. His statement, made to the police, was read and tendered in court by detective police corporal Claude Brima.

The accused said he landed the plane at the Freetown airport without any authority, but said he was also forced to do so because the plane was fast running out of fuel.

"The aircraft contained cocaine drugs and 34 plastic containers of fuel from the port of take off onto the port of destination," he disclosed. He said he was contracted by one Tom Amando and his business partners to take the consignment to Freetown.

"I should deliver the consignment to a tall man with grey hair, after which I was promised US$300,000 on my return," the accused revealed.

He said he communicated with the control tower by frequency and satellite phone prior to his landing at Lungi.

"Communication from the satellite drew the attention of the American platform and we were picked up," the witness' statement read.

The accused said somebody spoke to him in Spanish that there was some problem so they cannot put on the runaway light. "I managed to land the aircraft and we took to our heels to the fence of the airport," he stated.

The accused further said a taxi cab came and the driver told them he was sent to collect them. "We were taken onboard a white Land Rover to Port Loko."

The accused said he was given guarantee to transport the cocaine to Freetown and given fuel to take the plane back.

The third accused, Julio Cesar Morales Cruz, in his own statement said he was instructed by the first accused to hastily open the door as soon as they land and run away.

Meanwhile, the ninth accused, Gerardo Quistana Perez, did not make a statement to the police despite having promised to do so in the presence of his solicitor.

The matter was adjourned to Wednesday January 28.

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