Kenya: DPP Opposes Release of Drug Suspect on U.S.-Wanted List

29 September 2020

Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Noordin Haji has opposed the release on bond of a Kenyan wanted in the United States of America on drug-related charges.

Making the application before a Nairobi court on Monday, the DPP said it is highly likely that Mansur Mohamed Surur alias Mansour will escape if released on bail.

The court heard that the US government issued a warrant for his arrest following his indictment by a New York court for conspiracy to commit wildlife trafficking, money laundering and conspiracy to distribute and possess narcotic drugs.

Mr Surur was arrested on July 29 at the Moi International Airport, Mombasa, after landing from Yemen on a chartered flight. He allegedly left the country through South Sudan before travelling to Yemen.

He was arraigned at a JKIA court in July 2019 following a request through the DPP's office by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol). He was released on bond as extradition proceedings had not been received.

Senior Assistant DPP Catherine Mwaniki told the court that the police are investigating how Mr Surur left the country despite Interpol's red notice.

Further, the DPP said he has received an extradition request from the USA and that he is also seeking the arrest and surrender of Mr Badru Abdul Aziz Saleh alias Badro, his co-conspirator.

The court heard that Mr Aziz was arrested in June 2019 but was released on bond only to vanish. Just like his accomplice, the DPP said, Mr Surur might disappear.

The court was also told that Mr Surur holds a Yemeni identity card but its authenticity is still under investigation.

The offences

Mr Surur is wanted by several agencies for his involvement in trafficking of drugs and participating in the illegal trade of rhino horns and elephant ivory valued at more than Sh700,000,000 ($7 million).

The crimes are said to have involved the illegal poaching of more than 35 rhinos and more than 100 elephants.

Mr Surur and two others were previously charged with money laundering, as well as participating in a conspiracy to distribute more than 10 kilogrammes of heroin.

Mr Surur and Mr Aziz allegedly conspired with intent to distribute more than approximately 10 kilogrammes of heroin to a buyer in New York.

In court on Monday, Milimani Chief Magistrate Martha Mutuku ordered Mr Surur's detention at Capitol Hill Police Station in Nairobi as she analyses several applications by the DPP and the defence.

Ms Mwaniki, teaming up with two others, had urged the magistrate to order Mansour's detention as evidence sent from the USA, through its foreign mission in Nairobi, is assessed, before a decision is made on whether he should be flown out to face justice.

She said DPP Haji ordered the accused's arraignment after receiving a draft of the charges he will face at the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He signed the extradition request under Section 5(1) of Kenya's Extradition (Contiguous and Foreign Countries), Act, Cap 76.

Ms Mwaniki further informed the magistrate that the office of the DPP had received testimonies regarding the draft offences and must be satisfied that there is cogent evidence to warrant the extradition.

"I urge this court to allow us time to prepare adequately before presenting evidence received so far to verify whether an offence has been disclosed or not," she said, adding the law allows this before a handover.

The defence team sought time to file an affidavit in response to the evidence US authorities gave the DPP as well as their extradition request. The team also urged the court to release Mansour on bond pending the extradition proceedings.

Ms Mutuku will rule on the bail application on Wednesday.

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