The Blantyre Magistrates’ Court has sentenced Venezuelan Andereina Torres to seven months Imprisonment with Hard Labour (IHL) for importing cocaine, contrary to Section 11 as read with Section 19 of the Dangerous Drugs Act.
The seven months run from July last year, when she was arrested. This means she has been released from custody.
Torres was arrested at Chileka International Airport on July 3 2017 for being found in possession of 250 shoe brush-like materials containing a substance suspected to be cocaine.
The substances were later confirmed to be cocaine by officials at Medicines and Poisons Board in Lilongwe, who also told the court that Torres did not have a licence to import the drugs.
Torres pleaded not guilty to the charge but opted not to defend herself in the case.
Delivering his ruling, Chief Resident Magistrate Simeon Mdeza said the State proved Torres’ guilt in the offence to the requisite standard.
“The State had to prove the importation of the dangerous drugs— in this case, cocaine— that there was no licence to import the drugs or, where there was a licence, noncompliance. The State has proved all that and I proceed to convict her of the charge,” Mdeza said.
Mdeza also ordered the State to destroy the drugs openly on February 21.
State Prosecutor, Christopher Katani, hailed the custodial sentence, saying importing dangerous drugs is a serious offence.
“Health experts say most of the drugs are used by the youth and they are very dangerous. If she were successful, many people would have been affected. The drug would have destroyed the country’s future lawyers, magistrates and police officers like myself,” Katani said.
But, in mitigation, defence lawyer Fostino Mayere asked the court to exercise lenience, saying Torres was a first-time offender and the ground of deterring would-be offenders did not apply to first offenders.
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