The High Court in Juba sentenced a Brazilian woman to two years in prison and fined her associates, a Nigerian and a South Sudanese immigration officer, for smuggling cocaine into the country.
Juliana de Oliveira, 25, was arrested in October 2022 by the National Security at Juba International Airport after being found in possession of 4 kilograms of cocaine on her way from Brazil.
The drug was discovered hidden inside her shoe.
She was apprehended with Taban Lisouk Moses, a South Sudan immigration officer deployed to Juba Airport and Onega Joseph Chikuma, a Nigerian national. Chikuma is the second Nigerian to be sentenced for drug trafficking in South Sudan on the same day.
According to the police, officer Taban’s role was to ensure that the drugs are not intercepted at customs service while Chikuma was facilitating the cocaine delivery.
Preliminary investigation carried out by the police suggest Oliveira was supposed to give out the packages to the main dealer at a Juba hotel.
In his ruling on Friday, Judge Duoth Kolang sentenced Oliveira to two years in jailed and fined her associates 500,000 South Sudanese pounds each or one year in prison.
Taban and Chikuma were found guilty of violating section 383 of the South Sudan Penal Act 2008.
Kolang said the two men were given light sentences due to shortcomings in the procedures leading to their arrest, where the main recipient escaped and fled the country.
He said the police should have followed Oliveira to her final location.
The High Court judge has ordered that the foreigners be deported immediately after completing their jail terms in South Sudan.
Reacting to the verdict, Prosecutor Lawrence Silvio Loro said he is not satisfied with the court ruling.
Speaking to Eye Radio on Friday, Silvio said he going to appeal against the judgment.
“We at the Public Prosecution Office disagree with the court’s decision because the court brought the charge under section 383. The defense lawyer failed to provide a witness Negates the elements of the drug smuggling crime,” he said.
“Today, the court changed the description of the evidence after approving the indictment case at the indictment stage. I wish the court had informed the prosecution of the change in the description of the crime so that we would be aware. However, we are going to appeal against the verdict.”
On the same day, the court also sentenced a Nigerian to 5 years in imprisonment for smuggling 10 kilograms of cocaine.
Emmica Emma Rje, 37, was arrested in June last year by the Narcotics Control Division of the Criminal Investigation Department at Juba airport after leaving Brazil and transiting through Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
According to the judge, the sentence has been reduced due to an incomplete investigation by the police.
It is not clear if the two drug trafficking cases are linked.
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