Two Indian sailors, including one from Kollam district in Kerala, languishing in a Kenyan jail since 2014 on charges of drug trafficking were acquitted by a court in Mombasa on Thursday evening, legal advisors said.
Praveen Prabhakara Nair from Kollam and Vikas Balwan from Haryana have been acquitted by the Kenyan court in Mombasa. They are still under custody as prosecution has raised an objection. However, we are hopeful of their release soon and are following up the other procedures required for that,â€ť Nizar Kochery from Kochery Associates, a Qatar-based legal firm, which fought the case for Praveen and Vikas, said.
â€śThe Indian embassy in Kenya and two Malayali associations in Kenya helped me in fighting the case for Praveen and Vikas,â€ť Nizar added.
Praveen and Vikas were among the nine-member crew of a Iranian merchant vessel MV Amin Darya which was taken into custody by Kenyan security agencies in July 2014 at the port of Mombasa. The vessel was seized on suspicion of trafficking drugs.
The Kenyan Navy reportedly found drugs from the vesselâ€™s diesel tank.
The vessel was also controversially blown up in 2014 under orders from Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta despite two restraining court orders, sparking protests from a judge and a magistrate.
Meanwhile, local Kenyan media reported that one witness had testified during the hearing of the case that none of the 10 samples taken from the vessel tested positive for narcotics.
The witness had told the court that the samples he took randomly from 10 of the 250 bags seized on the ship in July 2014 tested positive for gypsum, which he said was a legal component of cement.
The report also added that Thomas Mwau, an expert from the Mining ministry, testified for the prosecution in the trial.