Trial Of Drug Suspects Stalls As Defence Rejects Interpreter | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Trial Of Drug Suspects Stalls As Defence Rejects Interpreter

Posted: May 14, 2016 at 4:30 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Andrew Utulu


The trial of four Mexicans and five Nigerians arrested over alleged operation of a laboratory for the illicit production of methamphetamine has again been stalled due to lack of a suitable interpreter.

The suspects who were arrested in March were arraigned by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on April 25, 2016, before Honourable Justice A.O. Faji at the Federal High Court, Asaba but the case could not go on because the first interpreter produced by NDLEA was rejected by the defence on the grounds of bias.

However, at the resumed trial on Friday May 13, 2016, the second interpreter provided by the prosecution was dramatically rejected by the defence, which had earlier accepted him.

The defence based its rejection on the grounds that the interpreter will not be available to the end of the trial since his residence permit in Nigeria will expire in October.

The NDLEA had produced Mr. Miguel Guadalupe Renteria Gutierrez, from Colombian to serve as interpreter to the four Mexicans, whose mother tongue is Spanish.

The prosecuting counsel, Barrister Lambert Nor told the court that since the first interpreter was rejected, the Agency in the circumstance worked hard to produce another one who was acceptable to the defence counsel so as not to delay trial

However, in an unexpected detour, the defence suddenly rejected the interpreter on grounds of continuity.

The defence counsel Benson Ndakara said that although he had initially accepted the interpreter, he will rather prefer an interpreter that will be around till the end of the trial. He noted that the residence permit of Mr. Miguel Guadalupe Renteria Gutierrez will expire in October.

But the prosecution noted that there was no guarantee that an interpreter who begins a trial will end it because “only God can determine that. If this interpreter is accepted, the Agency will produce another one to continue with the case in October if his residence permit is not renewed,” he said.

Justice Faji agreed with the defence on the need for continuity throughout the trial, stressing that things should be done in a way that the trial is not truncated. He therefore adjourned the case to June 7, 2016 and advised both counsels to clear areas of disagreement to allow for speedy trial of the case.

“The prosecutor shall take steps under the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) treaty to produce a suitable interpreter that will be available throughout the trial. Case is hereby adjourned to June 7, 2016 for plea,” the trial judge noted.

The accused are charged on a five count charge of conspiracy to form and operate a Drug Trafficking Organisation (DTO) to process and export methamphetamine.

They were also accused of illegal extraction of ephedrine, preparation of methamphetamine and unlawful possession of 1.5kg of methamphetamine; a drug similar to cocaine, heroin, LSD contrary to NDLEA Act, Cap N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

The nine accused persons are Anthony Chukwuemeka Umolu alias Onwa Obosi, Chief Chibi Aruh, Izuchukwu Anieto, Cervantes Madrid Jose Bruno, Rivas Ruiz Pasiano, Castillo Barraza Cristobal, Partida Gonzalez Pedro, William Ejike Agusi and Augustine Kosisochukwu Umolu.

The NDLEA discovered the super laboratory for the illicit production of methamphetamine located at Asaba, Delta State, said to be similar to the ones found in Mexico is the first to be discovered in the country.

The laboratory has a capacity of producing between 3,000kg to 4,000kg of methamphetamine per production cycle. A significant feature of this laboratory is that the production process is more technical and sophisticated because it uses the synthesis method of methamphetamine production.