Kenya: U.S. Court Jails Kenyan Drug Lord Baktash Akasha for 25 Years

16 August 2019

Confessed international drug trafficker Baktash Akasha was handed a 25-year prison sentence by a US judge on Friday.

Presiding Judge Victor Marrero said he would not impose the maximum term of life imprisonment sought by prosecutors due in part to mitigating factors that Baktash's defence attorney had outlined in a presentation during Friday's 75-minute court session.

20 YEARS

The attorney, George Goltzer, told the Nation that the 42-year-old Kenyan will likely spend less than 20 years in a federal medium-security prison.

Under US criminal justice standards, prisoners who exhibit good behaviour receive 54 days' reduction for each of the years to which they have been sentenced.

In addition, Baktash will be credited with the roughly two-and-a-half years he has been held in a detention centre in New York since being transported to the US.

The convicted drug trafficker will be deported to Kenya after completing his sentence.

Judge Marrero also ordered on Friday that Baktash must pay a $100,000 (Sh10 million) fine to the US.

"The judge gave very thoughtful regard to a difficult set of circumstances," Mr Goltzer said following the sentencing.

MERCY

Baktash occasionally spoke in a quavering voice in a five-minute statement in which he asked Judge Marrero for "mercy."

Reading from handwritten notes, Baktash repeatedly apologised for his actions, which, he said, had harmed his family as well as himself.

"I have only myself to blame," Baktash told the judge.

Mr Goltzer said earlier in Friday's proceedings that Baktash "feels terrible about his brother."

Ibrahim Akasha, 30, has also confessed to multiple charges of drug trafficking and of obstructing justice by bribing numerous Kenyan officials.

Mr Goltzer said in court that Baktash did not want Ibrahim to be held responsible for anything he had done.

GOOD BEHAVIOUR

"He thinks his brother should be sentenced to less time," Mr Goltzer added in regard to his client, minutes before Judge Marrero handed down a 25-year sentence to Baktash.

Outside the courtroom, Ibrahim's defence attorney, Dawn Cardi, said she expects her client to be given a 15-year sentence at a court session scheduled for November 8.

With time credited for good behaviour and for the 31 months he has been held in New York, Ibrahim might thus spend about 10 years in prison if Ms Cardi's prediction proves accurate.

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