Accused drug trafficker released after 13 years

The Mozambican Higher Appeals Court on Friday ordered the release of Andre Timana, a man sentenced in 2002 to 22 years imprisonment for drug trafficking, and who had been in jail since 2001.

It had taken the court almost 12 years to hear Timana’s appeal, which must be a record, even for the lethargic Mozambican legal system. Interviewed by the independent television station STV, Timana’s lawyer said the Appeal Court’s ruling was “He is innocent, he is acquitted”.

Timana was one of the accused in the highly publicized case of a machine producing the drug mandrax which was seized by the Mozambican and South African police in 2000 in the plastics factory, Plasmex. Timana was the majority shareholder in Plasmex, but he was not in Maputo when the police seized the machine and around 100,000 mandrax pills.

In the first plasmex trial, the minority shareholder in the company, Jacinto Nhamuneque, and a Tanzanian named Jerry Dean were sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. The plasmex factory was closed for three years, and the shares held by Timana and Nhamuneque reverted to the state.

Dean, who was accused of installing the machinery, somehow escaped, and is believed to have fled the country.

Timana had escaped to South Africa where he was arrested by the South African police in 2001. At his trial in 2002, the court found that Timana had masterminded the plan to set up a clandestine mandrax factory inside Plasmex, and had recruited Dean and others for this plan.

The court accepted the prosecution case that Timana had imported machinery which was supposed to form a new line of production for plastic tubes. In fact, between late 1999 and February 2000, the equipment was used to make mandrax tablets.

But throughout the trial Timana insisted he had no idea that illicit drugs were bring produced at Plasmex. It seems that the appeal court has finally agreed with him – though the full details of the appeal ruling are not yet available.

Post published in: Africa News

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