Ibrahim Akasha at the Mombasa Law Courts during the mention of his extradition case on November 18, 2014. His sentencing in the US has been postponed. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

KEVIN J. KELLEY

By KEVIN J. KELLEY
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In New York

The scheduled sentencing on Friday of confessed drug trafficker Ibrahim Akasha has been postponed until January 10.

This latest delay means that Ibrahim, a 30-year-old Kenyan citizen, will have been held in detention facilities in New York for nearly three years by the time he learns the length of his prison term.

It could range from 10 years to life.

Ibrahim’s older brother, Baktash, was handed a 25-year sentence in August.

LEGAL PROCESS

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Dawn Cardi, Ibrahim’s defence attorney, said in an interview on Friday that the planned session in federal court in Manhattan did not take place because her client has “unanswered questions” about his status.

Under US court rules, sentencing cannot proceed if convicted or confessed criminals persuade judges that concerns about legal proceedings have not been adequately addressed.

In a recent note to presiding Judge Victor Marrero, Ibrahim Akasha said he is “confused” and “lost” because he has not gotten clarification of his legal situation from Ms Cardi.

Ibrahim’s expression of bewilderment may also reflect his long isolation. He has not received a single social visit since US drug agents transported him from Nairobi to New York on January 29, 2017, Ms Cardi said last month.

Ibrahim told Judge Marrero that he has not had a substantive discussion with his attorney since his most recent court appearance on November 8.

He added that Ms Cardi did visit him in a Manhattan detention centre on November 26, but “her stay was short and brief due to her having to see other clients.”

“I never had time to share with my concerns with her and ask questions I’ve wanted to ask,” Ibrahim wrote.

“To be honest with you, your honour, I don’t have the slightest idea or clue of what’s going on and I’m confused.”

“I’m lost,” Ibrahim told the judge in closing.

His note is dated November 30, but a court document indicates it was not received by Judge Marrero until December 5. It was on that date that the judge ordered postponement of Ibrahim’s sentencing.

Ibrahim’s confusion arises from Judge Marrero’s statement at the November 8 court session that errors by another judge could invalidate the guilty pleas made last year by the two Akasha brothers.

US Magistrate Judge Katharine Parker had “misidentified or failed to state relevant portions of the United States Code” at the Akashas’ plea session on October 25, 2018, senior US prosecutor Geoffrey Berman recounted in a recent letter to Judge Marrero.

Prosecutors and defence attorneys have agreed that these errors should not invalidate the Akasha brothers’ guilty pleas, Mr Berman told the judge.

Lawyers on both sides of the case further agreed that Ibrahim’s December 6 sentencing should take place as scheduled, Mr Berman continued in his November 26 letter to Judge Marrero. But, the prosecutor suggested, Ibrahim should be given the opportunity at the December 6 session to indicate whether he “wishes to maintain his plea.”

That opportunity did not arise because Judge Marrero determined that Ibrahim’s note to him necessitated a postponement of sentencing.

Ms Cardi said on Friday that she has recently spoken to Ibrahim and believes his concerns have been allayed.

She added that she now expects Ibrahim’s sentencing to take place on January 10 — “unless something else arises.”





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