In Summary
  • Ibrahim Akasha, 30, was led into a life of crime by his 43-year-old brother Baktash, the lawyer says.

  • Her client could not refuse to follow that course, Ms Cardi suggests, because “the Kenyan culture is one in which Ibrahim is expected to do as he was told by his older brother.”

  • US prosecutors rejected this line of reasoning in their own pre-sentencing filing.

In New York

A US defence lawyer is citing “Kenyan culture” as a reason why confessed drug trafficker Ibrahim Akasha should be given the minimum prison term of 10 years at his scheduled sentencing on Friday.

“The collectivist culture in which Ibrahim grew up” disrupted his development and resulted in “lifestyle instability,” lawyer Dawn Cardi argues in papers submitted to a federal court in New York.

“His moral reasoning was stunted due to Kenyan familial culture and tradition that impacted his ability to determine right from wrong,” Ms Cardi adds.

Ibrahim Akasha, 30, was led into a life of crime by his 43-year-old brother Baktash, the lawyer says.

Her client could not refuse to follow that course, Ms Cardi suggests, because “the Kenyan culture is one in which Ibrahim is expected to do as he was told by his older brother.”

US prosecutors rejected this line of reasoning in their own pre-sentencing filing.

They describe the defence's arguments as “offensive to the many people in Kenya who don’t choose a criminal livelihood, to any of the defendant’s family members who chose a different path than the defendant, to the victims of the defendant’s violence and drug trafficking, and to the law-abiding members of his community who do not seek to excuse their conduct.”

The prosecution is urging presiding Judge Victor Marrero to hand Ibrahim a prison sentence similar to the 25-year term that the same judge meted out to Baktash Akasha in August.

Ibrahim should also be hit with a fine “greatly in excess of the $50,000 (Sh5 million) minimum” included in federal court sentencing guidelines, the prosecutors add.

Judge Marrero imposed a $100,000 (Sh10 million) fine on Baktash in August.

The prosecution's November 1 court filing also depicts Kenyan authorities as prone to corrupt dealings. The Akashas demonstrated “a pattern of drug-fueled bribery in Kenya,” the US legal team states.

In 2013, the US government attorneys recount, the Akasha brothers paid bribes that gave them access to a shipment of 10 tonnes of a chemical known as “abba” that had been seized by Kenyan officials. Abba is used in the manufacture of methaqualone, a sedative-hypnotic drug referred to in South Africa as Mandrax.

The Akashas and Vijay Goswami, a leading member of their narcotics syndicate, colluded for six months in transporting between five and six tonnes of abba from Nairobi to South Africa, the prosecutors say. The Akashas and Goswami were paid between $600,000 and $700,000 per tonne for the smuggled substance, the US filing states.

Following their arrest in Kenya in 2014 on drug charges, the Akashas “engaged in a rampant bribery campaign to delay their proceedings, avoid extradition, and obstruct justice before this Court,” the prosecutors add.

“They paid bribes to Kenyan law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, and at least three judges, and their scheme was successful for years.”

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