In Summary

  • The four men were clad in prison uniforms resembling hospital scrubs, the protective garment worn by doctors and nurses in operating theatres.

  • The pre-trial hearing before Judge Victor Marrero lasted about 25 minutes. It focused on setting a schedule for “discovery” – a term in US law referring to the assembling of evidence in a case that can then be exchanged between prosecutors and defence attorneys.

  • Discovery will prove to be a complex process in this instance, assistant federal prosecutor Michael Lockard told Judge Marrero.

NEW YORK

The Akasha brothers and two co-defendants charged with conspiring to smuggle heroin into the United States (US) were taken to a federal courtroom in New York on Friday wearing handcuffs attached to a chain around their waists.

The four men were clad in prison uniforms resembling hospital scrubs, the protective garment worn by doctors and nurses in operating theatres.

The pre-trial hearing before Judge Victor Marrero lasted about 25 minutes. It focused on setting a schedule for “discovery” – a term in US law referring to the assembling of evidence in a case that can then be exchanged between prosecutors and defence attorneys.

Discovery will prove to be a complex process in this instance, assistant federal prosecutor Michael Lockard told Judge Marrero.

Evidence in the case involving Kenyan nationals Baktash and Ibrahim Akasha, Indian citizen Vijaygiri Goswami and Gulam Hussein, a Pakistani, mainly takes the form of electronic data in various languages, including English, Swahili, Hindi, Arabic and Urdu. Interpretations have to be arranged for both the prosecution and defence. A courtroom conference updating the status of the case was set for April 21. The actual trial is not expected to begin for several more months.

FROM KENYA

The four men are accused of conspiring to transport 98 kilogrammes of heroin into the US from Kenya. If convicted on all charges, they could be sentenced to life in prison.

Individual attorneys representing each of the four Kenya residents made no complaints in court on Friday regarding the conditions in which their clients are being held.

The defendants themselves did not speak during Friday’s court session. Two of them listened to the proceedings through headphones that provided translations from English.

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