By Faustine Kapama, Dar
THE High Court’s Economic, Corruption and Organized Crime Division yesterday sentenced Nigerian, Christian Ugbechi to 30 years imprisonment for trafficking in 56 pellets of Heroin Hydrochloride, which are narcotic drugs, weighing 947.57 grams.
Judge Sirilius Matupa imposed such sentence after convicting him of the offence, having been satisfied by evidence produced by 11 prosecution witnesses, led by State Attorney Constantine Kakula.
Through the witnesses, he said, the prosecution sufficiently proved the charge beyond reasonable doubt.
According to the judge, there were also 22 exhibits, including some documents tendered by the prosecution to support the charge against the accused of being involved in committing the offence he was facing. Judge Matupa noted that the convict had defended that he was searched three times and found with nothing, thus, the prosecution ought to have brought in the electronic evidence of CCTV.
However, he said it was unnecessary for the prosecution to bring such evidence.
The judge also pointed out that there were other witnesses, who were called and substantiated the claims against the accused. He also said that the government’s chief chemist in his investigation confirmed that the drugs he had analyzed were the ones found with the accused.
Before being sentenced, the trial attorney submitted that though he had no criminal records of the convict, he requested the court to punish him severely considering the seriousness of the offence committed and that stiff sentence should deter others from committing similar crime.
Presenting mitigating factors, Advocate Jeremiah Ntobesya, for the convict, requested the court for mercy, in particular, reducing the punishment for his client as he has a family, notably a wife and children, who all depend on him.
Furthermore, the counsel submitted, his client was sick, as he is facing heart complications and that he has remained in remand for over a year, during which he has exhibited good behavior.
The lawyer also forcefully submitted that through the law under which his client was charged with provides life imprisonment sentence, it was not mandatory such punishment to be provided to the offender because the court has discretion of imposing a lesser sentence depending on circumstances.
During the trial, the prosecution had told the court that on January 28, 2018 at Julius Nyerere International Airport within Ilala District in Dar es Salaam, the Nigerian was found trafficking in the narcotic drugs in question.
Earlier in his testimony, a police officer, Detective Corporal Peter at the airport had narrated that he recorded the statement of the accused, and that during interrogation he told him that he had swallowed some pellets of narcotic drugs.
The witness testified that he kept the accused in remand to enable him excrete the pellets, and that by January 30, 2018, at around 4:30pm, he had discharged 23 pellets. Corporal Peter also testified that they took such exhibits and other pellets found in a bag and sent them to the government’s chief chemistry.