A Malindi court on Tuesday sentenced a man to 30 years’ imprisonment for human trafficking.
Chief Magistrate Elizabeth Usui handed Abubakar Amin Habib the tough custodial sentence after the man pleaded guilty to a charge of transporting seven refugees from the Daadab Refugee Camp in Garissa County against their will.
He had been charged alongside Jilani Mihadhi, who has since denied the charge of human trafficking, an offence they allegedly committed on November 29 this year.
The court was told that on the material day, the two were found trafficking the Somali aliens using a Toyota probox car at the Sabaki Bridge in Magarini constituency of Kilifi County.
Prosecutor Agatha Mkongo said police officers manning the security road block at Sabaki Bridge flagged down the vehicle and confronted the duo, who were unable to explain where they were going with the Somali nationals inside the vehicle.
“An adult female passenger told the officers that she and the other four passengers were Somali refugees from the refugee camp and that they were being transported against their will,” Ms Mkongo said.
She said the suspects were then arrested and charged with the offence of trafficking in persons and promotion of human trafficking contrary to the Counter Trafficking in Person Act.
While denying the charge, Jilani conceded that the vehicle carrying the refugees was his, but added that Habib had hired the vehicle to transport his family.
“I use my vehicle as a taxi and that is why I hired it to my co-accused person because he said he was going to transport his family,” Mr. Jilani said.
The court ordered him to be released on a Sh1 million bond with two sureties of a similar amount and set the case for mention of his case in two-week’s time.
Habib pleaded guilty to trafficking seven Somali nationals among them five children from Daadab refugee camp.
While delivering the judgement, the Magistrate said some of the victims are minors and although the accused is remorseful, the serious offence of human related trafficking cannot be undone once inflicted.
“The sentence prescribed for offenders under the international law is a clear indication that a deterrent measure is called for. The court has a duty to discourage likeminded persons,” she said and directed that the convict be incarcerated at the Malindi Maximum Prison.
In mitigation, Habib pleaded with the court to give him a lenient sentence saying his wife and children were also at the Daadab Refugee Camp.
He said he was transferring the refugees from Daadab to Kakuma Refugee Camp in Turkana.