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British aristocrat's son awaits ruling in Kenya drugs case

World News
Mon, 08 Aug 2016

Nairobi: A British aristocrat's son facing charges of trafficking $5.8 million worth of cocaine was awaiting a new ruling on his application for bail Monday, after prosecutors challenged his conditional release.

Jack Marrian, 31, was charged last Thursday after police in the eastern port city of Mombasa seized a 100-kg stash of cocaine in a sugar consignment ordered by British firm ED&F Man.

Magistrate Derrick Kuto earlier said Marrian, a sugar trader who has lived in East Africa since early childhood, could leave jail if he posted a bond of 70 million shillings ($690,600) with two Kenyan sureties and surrendered his passport.

But Marrian will remain in custody ahead of a High Court hearing on Tuesday following a successful intervention by Kenya's Director of Public Prosecutions, who protested the decision given the severity of the charge.

The businessman could face a life sentence if convicted.

Dressed in a grey-blue suit and patterned tie, Marrian showed little emotion during the hearing, except to smile once at his parents across the packed courtroom.

Defence lawyer Sheetal Kapila told AFP he believed the case was driven by the authorities' desire "to stop Kenya being a transit point" for drugs, but in this case, "it's the wrong man who's been picked up."

"Unknown people have smuggled this drug into the consignment," Kapila said.

Mombasa on Africa's east coast has long been used as a hub for drugs bound for Asia and Europe.

Marrian's case has caused a sensation in his native Britain, where the aristocratic background of his mother Lady Emma Clare Campbell of Cawdor and his attendance at top private schools, including the alma mater of Prince William's wife Catherine, have caught the eye of the Press.

His family's relationship with Kenya dates back decades, his lawyer said, as Marrian's grandfather served as a minister in the colonial government just before independence in 1963.

His father David Marrian said he had spoken with his son daily since his arrest.

"I have no doubt that Jack will be exonerated," he said.

His father confirmed the firms Marrian works for – Kenya- and Uganda-based Mshale Commodities and London-based ED&F Man -- were backing him "100 percent".

In a statement released late Monday, a Mshale spokeswoman said it would continue to provide support "to ensure that justice is done based on facts and evidence; we are confident that Jack will be fully exonerated once the facts are presented."

Roy Francis Mwanthi, a Kenyan facing similar charges, was also due to have his bail reconsidered after initially being freed on a 60-million-shilling bond with two Kenyan sureties.

The trial is due to open on October 3.