Mozambique: Pakistani Drug Trafficker to Be Extradited to the U.S.

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Maputo — The Mozambican Attorney-General's Office (PGR) announced on Friday that the Supreme Court has agreed to the PGR's request to extradite a Pakistani citizen, Tanveer Ahmed, to the United States, where he faces charge of drug trafficking.

Ahmed, also known as "Galby", will be tried by the South Texas district court and, if found guilty, could face a sentence of 40 years imprisonment.

The Texas court issued an international arrest warrant on 21 December 2018. Four people were named on the warrant, including Tanveer Ahmed, who was said to be living in the southern Mozambican city of Matola.

Ahmed has been in difficulties with the Mozambican authorities too, and was arrested in 2018 in the northern province of Cabo Delgado on drug charges. But, to the obvious annoyance of the Public Prosecutor's Office a court in the provincial capital, Pemba, acquitted him, on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

This came as a surprise since, in October 2018, the National Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC) announced that Ahmed, two Tanzanians and a Kenyan had been arrested in possession of 34 kilos of cocaine and about two kilos of hashish.

"In collaboration with the other defence and security forces, SERNIC has been monitoring this group, and we were able to arrest them red-handed in Cabo Delgado province", said SERNIC spokesperson, Leonardo Simbine.

Police investigations, he continued, led to the conclusion that the Pakistani was in charge of the group. Simbine said he was a drug baron who operated throughout southern Africa, and was wanted in several countries in the region.

Despite the acquittal, the Cabo Delgado authorities did not release Ahmed. "We have received an international arrest warrant issued by the United States", Cabo Delgado attorney Armando Wilson told reporters. "And we are now working with the court to execute this international warrant".

The Supreme Court initially decided on 15 May last year, in response to a PGR request, that Ahmed should be extradited. Although there is no extradition treaty between Mozambique and the US, the Court decided that the case falls under the United Nations Convention on the Illicit Traffic in Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances. In the absence of an extradition treaty, the Convention may be considered the legal basis for extradition.

Before taking its decision, the Supreme Court received assurances from the United States that Ahmed would face neither the death penalty nor life imprisonment.

Implementing the 15 May decision was delayed, because Ahmed appealed. But on 9 December Ahmed dropped his appeal. Although only made public now, the Supreme Court reiterated its extradition ruling on 18 December.

The PGR added that, since there are no further routes of appeal, measures are now being taken to hand Tanveer Ahmed over to the US authorities.

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