5 December 2012

Namibia: Record Cocaine Suspects' Appeal Fails in Supreme Court

Windhoek — The Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal to dismiss a conviction of two Angolan nationals Daniel João Paulo (43) and Josué Manuel Antonio (44), convicted of dealing in cocaine worth N$20 million.

They based their appeal on the allegation they did not know that the vehicle in which they were travelling had cocaine concealed in it. They further argued that the court had tried, and failed, to convict them for the second batch of cocaine that the police found after the car had already been impounded.

They were initially arrested at a roadblock in Keetmanshoop in December 2007 when police found 30,1 kilogrammes of cocaine with a market value of N$15.5 million in a hidden compartment under the Land Cruiser they were travelling in. The vehicle was impounded during the arrest.

Nine months after they were arrested and the car under lock and key at the Keetmanshoop police station, the police searched the vehicle again and this time found an additional 9.25kg of cocaine hidden in the spare wheel of the car. When the police and the court tried to add new charges to the first charges, the three accused ran to the High Court for relief.

There Judge Collins Parker ruled in their favour saying that the State had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the two men were in possession of the 9.25kg of cocaine discovered in the vehicle nine months later, while in the custody of the police. Hence Paulo and Antonio were only convicted for the possesion of the 30.1kg of cocaine found in the car when they were in the car at the roadblock.

The two tried to overturn that conviction as well, saying they cannot be held liable since they had no prior knowledge that the drugs were in the car. But the Appeal judges found that no grounds exist that another court may come to a different conclusion as the trial court and subsequently dismissed the appeal.

Judges of Appeal, Sylvester Mainga, Chief Justice Peter Shivute and Judge Gerhard Maritz were all in agreement that "in all circumstances, the evidence as a whole as recorded established the appellants' guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

The appellants' version is improbable, not possibly true on the proven facts and falls to be rejected as false. The appellants were correctly convicted."

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