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Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Noordin Haji has expressed dissatisfaction with High Court decision to acquit Mombasa businessman Feisal Mohammed, who was jailed for 20 years for being in possession of ivory worth Sh44million.
In his official Twitter handle, the DPP expressed his disappointment with the decision and said he will challenge the judgment at the Court of Appeal.
“The DPP is dissatisfied and aggrieved with the judgement of the High Court acquitting Feisal Ali Mohammed on charges relating to wildlife trafficking. The DPP will be appealing the decision at the Court of Appeal,” ODPP said in its Twitter handle.
It further said: “The DPP respects decision of High Court, respectfully disagrees with the conclusion reached by Hon Judge.
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has also expressed “shock” over the acquittal of Mr Mohammed.
Via its Twitter handle, KWS said: “The acquittal of Mr Mohammed won’t be left to stand, he had been sentenced to 20 years and fine[d] Sh20million. In consultation with the office of the DPP, we plan to appeal against the ruling at the earliest opportunity,”
“We are shocked by acquittal of Feisal Mohammed today [Friday] over 314 ivory tusks. He had been sentenced to 20 years and a fine of Sh.20m. Appeal,” the agency said on Twitter.
Wildlife Direct Legal Affairs Manager Jim Karani also expressed the conservationist lobby’s dissatisfaction with the acquittal, terming the decision unbelievable, but not shocking.
“It is a setback to our . . . war against wildlife poaching, but we hope the verdict will be challenged at the Court of Appeal,” he said.
On Friday, the High Court in Mombasa freed Mr Mohammed ruling that the prosecution did not prove its case against him beyond reasonable doubt as required by law.
Justice Dorah Chepkwony termed the sentence unconstitutional and freed Mr Mohammed.
The judge noted that the sentence was severe and that the prosecution failed to prove that Mr Mohammed was the owner of the ivory or was engaged in trafficking the trophies.
“The sentence that was imposed by the trial court on July 22, 2016 was unconstitutional and therefore the same is set aside. I find the appellant’s appeal has merit, allow the same and proceed to quash the conviction and set aside the sentence against the appellant. He is hereby set at liberty unless lawfully held,” the judge ruled.
Justice Chepkwony said the prosecution’s case against the appellant was weak with scattered pieces strewn all over and that she disagrees with the findings of Senior Principal Magistrate Diana Mochache that the evidence when all combined pointed to the guilt of the appellant.
In her judgment two years ago, the magistrate stated that: “I have considered the prosecution’s evidence as it is manifestly clear that a combination of chain of events when considered as a whole point irresistibly at the accused person as the owner of the recovered ivory.”
But the judge disagreed with the magistrate’s findings and consequent conviction of the appellant on account of circumstantial evidence, which according to her was not proved and did not point to Mr Mohammed’s guilt.
“I don’t think so, in view of what I have pointed out, I have come to the conclusion that the prosecution failed to discharge its burden of proof against the appellant as required by law. There are so many doubts that were raised by their evidence,” she said
“I, therefore, find that the offence of being in possession of wildlife trophies was not proved against the appellant. There was no evidence of any ornament having been recovered from the scene or the manufacture of any such thing found in the crime scene.”
The judge noted that the motor vehicle said to have been hired by the appellant to transport the ivory on further analysis of evidence proved not to have been the alleged vehicle as the registration numbers and the make were different.