24 November 2012

Tanzania: Hassanol in Elephant Tusks Scandal

INFLUENCIAL Simba member Hassan Othman 'Hassanol' and five others were brought before the Kisutu Magistrate's Resident Court in Dar es Salaam, charged with sabotaging the economy.

The former Simba Secretary General, who is currently the Chairman of the Coast Regional Football Association (COREFA) and the other five accused persons were allegedly implicated in exporting 1.2bn/- worth of government trophies, which were recently seized in Hong Kong.

Before the Resident Magistrate, Agustina Mmbando, State Attorney Shadrack Kimaro read three counts against the accused persons. In the first count Kimaro alleged that between September 20 and November 20 this year, the accused conspired and were illegally involved in elephant tusks business.

He further alleged that between the same dates the accused persons conspired to illegally export 1.2bn/- worth of 569 pieces of unpolished ivory tusks weighing about 1,330 kilogrammes to Hong Kong from Dar es Salaam.

In the third count Kimaro alleged that without the required licence, and while knowing it was against the law to be to found in possession of government trophies, the accused conspired to export the ivory tusks to Hong Kong.

Prosecution informed the court that the investigation into the case is incomplete and the case was postponed until November 28, this year for another mention. Resident Magistrate Mmbando who stepped in for absent Rita Tarimo, ordered the accused person to be remanded in custody until then.

The accused persons were not allowed to enter any plea because the Resident Magistrate's Court has no jurisdiction to hear and determine the case until it secures a go ahead from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP). The container carrying the consignment from Tanzania was seized on November 16 in Hong Kong.

"These ivory tusks were concealed with other normal goods. There were 400 bags of sunflower seeds used as concealment," Group Head of Ports and Maritime Command Wong Sui-hang was quoted as saying by AFP. The tusks left Tanzania by ship and were transferred to another vessel in Dubai before making the journey to Hong Kong, Wong said.

Anyone found guilty of importing ivory into Hong Kong faces up to two years in jail and a fine of HK$5 million ($645,000). Even so, the city remains a major trading centre for processed ivory goods such as carvings and jewellery.

Last year Hassanol and three others were arrested and charged in court in connection with theft of copper worth 400m/-. Hassanol was beaten by current Simba Chairman Ismail Aden Rage to the post, during the club's general election on May 9, 2010 at the Police Officers Mess in Dar es Salaam.

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