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Cocaine case: GSB give evidence in camera

The Accra High Court hearing the 588.33 kilogrammes cocaine case yesterday started sitting in camera to take evidence from experts of the Ghana Standards Board (GSB).

The identities of the experts who are prosecution witnesses in the case are protected by the law.

One of them appeared yesterday to testify in the case, involving one Ghanaian and five foreigners.

They are Kevin D.Gorman, an American, Mohammed Ibrahim Kamil, the Ghanaian, Sven Herb, a German, David J. Logan, Alan Hodgson and Frank D. Lavenck, all Britons.

All six accused persons have been charged with two counts of engaging in criminal conspiracy to commit an offence relating to narcotic drugs and possessing narcotic drugs without licence from the Ministry of Health (MOH).

They have pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on remand at the Nsawam Prisons.

Speaking under cross- examination earlier, Mr David Ahulu the fifth prosecution witness denied suggestions that he implicated Gorman so that he could have his way to enjoy what the two of them had jointly toiled for Counsel for Gorman suggested to witness that his evidence to the court was full of lies but witness did not agree.

Witness agreed with counsel that when the accused was arrested, he denied that he had anything in his house.

Asked whether the boxes which were shown to the accused in court as belonging to him were marked witness said he could not remember anything but was sure that they were the same boxes which were retrieved from the house of the accused.

Mr Ahulu said that he had known Gorman since 1976 when he went to live in the boy's quarters of German's house and later assisted him to construct the house.

According to witness, it was never through the instrumentality of the accused that

Tuna-To-Go Company contracted a loan from the SSB Bank.

During another cross examination by Mr Addo Atuah, counsel for Logan, Hodgson and Laverick, witness confessed that he was confused by the police action on the day of the arrest.

In that state, counsel told witness that it would be quite inaccurate to give an account of the true events as they unfolded but witness described that statement as incorrect.

Hearing continues today.

Police grab suspected principal architect

"I AM now tired of running. Everywhere I went, your people were on me."

These were the words of Craig Alexander Pininick, a British national suspected to be the principal architect in the 588.33 kilogrammes cocaine case, when he was finally arrested in a neighbouring country last week after a six-month search.

Pinnick, who had been globetrotting to avoid arrest, is said to be among six other accused persons involved in the importation of the narcotic drug. The drug has a street value of $140 million.

The others, Kevin D. Gorman, a 59-year-old American, Mohammed Ibrahim Kamil, a Ghanaian car dealer, David J. Logan, 43, Frank D. Laverick, 43, Alan Hodgson, 45, all Britons, and Sven Herb, 45, a German, are currently on remand at the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons.

Pinnick, who is the owner of Captains Lodge at the Prampram beach, allegedly escaped arrest when his gang was busted on January 7, 2004 , after two years of intensive investigations into its operations.

Officials of the Narcotics Control Board at the weekend posted seizure notices on Captain's Lodge.

Pinnick, who first travelled to Togo, moved on to Benin, Britain and France, before his arrest in another West African country which does not want its name to be mentioned.

A highly placed official at the Narcotics Control Board said since his escape, the board had been collaborating with its external agencies, as well as INTERPOL, to track down the suspect.

It said the suspect left Ghana on March 23, 2004 and had been going round the various countries when he got to know the security agencies were trailing him.

The source said Pinnick and Sven Herb were responsible for carting the cocaine from the high seas to Prampram and later to Tema.

Touching on the seizure notice, the source explained that 30 days after the posting of the notice, the board would apply to the court for its confiscation.

It said the suspect was currently in custody, pending trial.

Defence closes case in cocaine trial

The defence in the 588.33 kilogramme cocaine trial yesterday closed the case with the evidence of Sven Leonard Herb, a 45-year-old German.

Consequently, the court, presided over by Mr Justice F. Kusi-Appiah, a Court of Appeal Judge, sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court Judge, adjourned the case to September 14, to fix a date for judgement.

Mr Justice Kusi-Appiah asked the Chief State Attorney, Mr Anthony Gyambiby, to file his written address by August 30, 2004 to enable the defence counsel to file their response by September 7.

Herb and David Logan, a Briton, Kevin D. Gorman, an American, Mohammed Ibrahim Kamil, a Ghanaian, Frank David Laverick and Alan Hodgson, both Britons have been accused of shipping narcotic drugs into the country without lawful authority.

The six are currently on remand at the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons, but have all pleaded not guilty to the various charges levelled against them.

A seventh accomplice, Craig Alexander Pinnick, also a Briton who was on the run was 1ater arrested and remanded in custody by an Accra circuit court.

Led in evidence by Mr Kwabla Senanu, his counsel, Herb told the court that he came to Ghana or December 12, 2003, to visit his family because the following day was his daughter's birthday, while his wife was expecting another baby in January, 2004.

He denied that the Narcotics Control Board and its sister agencies in the United Kingdom identified them as one of the international drug traffickers operating in Ghana.

According to him, he was arrested when he paid Gorman a visit in his house to inform him about the birth of his son but a search on him did not reveal anything.

He said a further search conducted in his house did not reveal anything either and he never conspired with anybody to deal in narcotic substances.

Testifying under cross-examination by the Chief State Attorney, the accused admitted writing his caution statement to the police and also picked Logan and Laverick from the airport on January 2 and 6, 2004, respectively.

Asked to explain why he said in his evidence that he picked the two because Gorman was busy and in his caution statement that he picked them because he, wanted to go to town with a girl friend, the accused said in his caution statement nobody asked him that question.

He said Gorman telephoned him to ask him to pick them from the airport but when asked to mention his telephone number the accused said he could not do that.

When his telephone number was suggested to him, the accused said the number sounded familiar but he was not sure saying "it is posible but I can't remember. I kept the number for about one year before my arrest."

He said when he was asked to pick the two people, he knew that Laverick was coming to Ghana because he had told him to buy a DVD player for him but in the case of Logan, he did not know that he was coming.

The accused denied going to the Prampram Beach on December 31, 2003, to offload boxes containing cocaine to be conveyed to the house of Gorman in Tema.

Britons jailed for cocaine haul
Cocaine powder
Four Britons have been jailed in for smuggling cocaine
Four Britons have each been sentenced to 20 years in jail plus hard labour in Ghana for plotting to smuggle cocaine, the Foreign Office has confirmed.

The four, together with a German and a Ghanaian, were found guilty of plotting to smuggle half a tonne of cocaine into the country, Reuters said.

In January, police in Ghana seized 674kg of cocaine worth $145m (79m) found hidden behind a mirror.

The men's defence lawyer said they would appeal at the "harsh" sentences.

Police had found the cocaine behind a mirror at the home of Kevin Gorman, 59, in the port city of Tema, near the capital city of Accra, following a two-year investigation.

Hard labour

As well as Gorman, from Trimdon Grange, near Durham, who has dual UK and US nationality, fellow Britons David Logan, 54, from Warrington, Frank Laverick, 44, from Cleethorpes, and 46-year-old Alan Hodgson from Easington, Co Durham. were sentenced.

Also jailed were German Sven Herb and Ghanaian Ibrahim Kamel.

All were found guilty of conspiracy and possession with their jail sentences to run concurrently with hard labour.

The BBC's correspondent in the capital Accra, Kwaku Sakyi-Ado, who was at the trial, said the men were calm after the sentences were announced and their lawyers said they planned to appeal.

Mitigation

He said: "Their lawyers said at the very least the judge ought to have allowed them to make a plea for mitigation."

He added the judge described Gorman, who was general manager in fishing company Tuna-To-Go, "as the centre of the wheel around which everything evolved" and said the six were "leaders or grandmasters in the distribution of narcotic drugs in Ghana and elsewhere".

The men will serve their sentences in Ghana because the offence was committed there.

European anti-drug officials say Africa is being used more and more as a route to smuggle drugs into Europe.

The prosecution said it believed the cocaine seized had come from Venezuela.

January's haul was the biggest ever seizure in West Africa.

Customs and Excise led the intelligence operation which resulted in the raid and a spokesman said there was evidence the cocaine was destined for the UK.

Drug-smuggling Europeans jailed for 20 yrs each
Accra, Oct. 27, GNA - An Accra High Court on Wednesday handed down 20 years' imprisonment to each of the six persons it found guilty of smuggling 588.33 kilograms of cocaine into the country, even though, they all pleaded not guilty.

Kevin Gorman, 59, an American, Mohammed Ibrahim Kamil, a Ghanaian, John David Logan, 43, Frank Lavelrick, 43, Alan Hodson 45, all British nationals and 45-year-old Sven Herb, a German, faced charges for conspiracy and possessing 588.33 kilograms of cocaine without lawful authority.

Gorman, Lavelrick and Hodson were additionally charged with importing narcotic drugs without licence from the Ministry of Health. Gorman was further charged with using his property for narcotic offence.

The Court presided over by Mr Justice F. Kusi Appiah, a Court of Appeal Judge sitting as additional High Court Judge, found them guilty and convicted them accordingly.

The Court ordered that all monies retrieved from the convicts - 18,841 dollars; 1,150 pounds sterling; 9,485 Euros; Venezuelan currencies, 40 Thai dollars, 10 Swiss Francs and 4.2 million cedis - be confiscated to the State.

The Court ordered that Gorman's house number 33/7 located at Tema Community 10 and a van used in conveying the drugs from Prampram to the house be confiscated to the State. It said a handbook entitled "Cocaine" should be destroyed before the Registry of the Court.

However, a car with registration number GT 1718 S, a revolver and shotgun, which the court found were not connected to the crime, should be returned to them.

Reading a 50-page judgement the court stated that considering the quantity of the drugs and modus operandi of the accused persons it ought to mete out sentences to serve as deterrent to others.

The Court described them as grandmasters in the drug business.

Mr Justice Kusi Appiah stated that on the conspiracy charge, the Prosecution was able to establish a case against the convicts. It said the Prosecution led evidence to show that all the convicts, apart from Kamil, were arrested in Gorman's house.
It further debunked Gorman's explanation that he created the compartment in house to protect his items from armed robbers saying, "this was an after thought".
The Court said from Gorman's creation of the compartment in the house it was clear that he knew the contents of the boxes, which were deposited, in his house by Kamil.
The Court described Gorman as the wheel around which all activities revolved and that Hodson was only not in the country to deliver Gorman's cancer drugs to him but deal in the cocaine business.

The Court described Hodson as untruthful as he denied engaging in any masonry work in Gorman's house but Prosecution witnesses had seen him carrying out masonry work and he was the one, who created the compartments.
It noted that Kamil was the front man, who earlier on conveyed messages to some Prosecution Witness about the arrival of some supposed boxes of fish.
As a result, the Court said, Kamil arrived with Herb in a boat to convey the boxes of cocaine from Prampram Beach to Tema and offloaded it into a van that took it to Gorman's house.

It noted that Kamil visited Gorman several times and debunked his assertion that he only arrived in the house to collect a present. The Court was of the view that Logan and Laverick although were engaged in oil business travelled with Gorman to various countries to procure and purchase drugs to be distributed.

"I found out that the arrival of Logan and Laverick was pre-arranged and it was in furtherance to see to the arrival of the boxes of cocaine into the country," the Judge said.

Mr Justice Kusi Appiah said Hodson and Lavelrick, who told the Court that they wanted to travel to Nigeria before January 9, 2004 for a business transaction, never made any arrangement to that effect. It said the visit of Hodson was not coincidental but was to accomplish a criminal offence.
On Herb the Court said it found that he was the one, who conveyed the boxes of the drugs and landed at Prampram Beach.

It also found that Herb arrived in Captain's Lodge at Prampram with Kamil and other people to offload the boxes of supposed fish.
Herb through Kamil distributed 200,000 cedis each to some Prosecution Witnesses, who assisted in offloading the boxes of cocaine into a van owned by Kamil.

The case of the Prosecution was that Gorman is a Director/Shareholder and Operations Manager of a shipping company called Tuna To-Go Limited based in Tema.
On January 7, the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) and the Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) of the Police Service raided the residence of Gorman and discovered bales and parcels of whitish substances suspected to be cocaine. The parcels were concealed in a specially constructed hole or compartment in a wall behind a large dressing mirror. The Prosecution said Gorman with Logan, Lavelrick and Hodgson, who were living in the house at the time, were confronted with the substance.

Gorman said the bales and parcels were brought there for safe keeping by one Yakuba for a fee of 50,000 dollars.
The rest of the suspects, including Herb, who arrived later, denied knowledge of the substance.
Investigations indicated that on December 31, last year, Kamil delivered the bales or boxes of suspected drugs to Gorman's house.
An examination by the Ghana Standard Board revealed that the whitish substance was cocaine.


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