Tanzania: Ivory Case Suspect Was Not Tortured, Witness Tells Court


Maureen Odunga, Tanzania Daily News

Date Published

Two witnesses have confirmed before a Dar es Salaam court that Manase Philemon (39), who is accused of leading organized crime and unlawful dealing in government trophies worth 5.4bn/-, was not tortured while making his statement.

Philemon who is charged alongside the alleged Queen of Ivory, Chinese Yang Feng Clan (66) and Salivius Matembo (39) had claimed to have been tortured by the police to agree to the charges.

Before Kisutu Principal Resident Magistrate, Huruma Shaidi, the prosecutor, Mr Faraja Nchimbi, informed the court that the case had come for trial within a trial.

A police officer, Sergeant D 7847 Beatus (46), alleged that he had taken Philemon’s statement at Kijitonyama Police Station after his arrest at Njiapanda Segerea and held at Stakishari Station before being transferred. Sergeant Beatus told the court that before taking the statement, he notified his superiors and went through with the interrogation.

He further claimed that at that moment, the accused was in good shape and was accorded all rights before beginning the interrogation. “I informed him of his right to speak before a lawyer or a relative but he had agreed for us to proceed with neither the persons and upon finishing, he placed his signature and confirmation on the sheet,” alleged Sargent Beatus.

Sergeant Beatus also notified the court that he had received a call from the then Director of Criminal Investigation (DCI), Mngulu, ordering him to go to Stakishari Station to transfer a suspect who was involved in an illegal business of elephant tusks.

“The interrogation went on from around 4.05pm to 5.28pm in the evening before handing the accused to the head of the station to place him under custody,” alleged the witness.

He also denied to having guarded the accused in a Hospital at Sinza where Philemon claimed to have been admitted after being tortured. Responding to a question which was asked by Defence Attorney, Nehemiah Nkoko, Sergeant Beatus said there was no time he had heard that the accused was admitted to a hospital but rather heard of him being sick but he has never guarded him.

Another witness, Corporal F 29 Lugano (36), notified the court that he was the one who carried out Philemon’s arrest and handed him over to Sergeant Beatus and he had not complained of any illness or injuries.

“The arrest was carried out on April 18, 2014, when he was tipped off by an informer on the whereabouts of the accused,” he said. The prosecution alleges that between January 1, 2000 and May 22, 2014 in the city, all the three accused carried out business of the said government trophies.

It is alleged that the trio bought and sold 706 pieces of elephant tusks weighing 1,889 kilogrammes valued at 5,435,865,000/-, the property of United Republic of Tanzania, without a permit from the director of wildlife.

The prosecution alleged that within the same period and place, intentionally, Clan organized, managed and financed a criminal racket by collecting, transporting or exporting and selling elephant tusks without a permit from the director of wildlife or CITES permit.

Within the same period and place, Matembo and Philemon allegedly furnished assistance and directions in the conduct of business of collecting, transporting and selling the said government trophies with intent to reap benefits, promote and further the objective of criminal racket. Philemon is facing a separate count of escaping from lawful custody.