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General News of Friday, 13 July 2007

Source: GNA

No Extradition For British "Coke" Teens


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Accra, July 13, GNA - The British High Commission in Accra would not seek the extradition of two British teenage girls arrested in Accra with cocaine to London for trial, an official told the Ghana News Agency on Friday.

The two girls, aged 16 years each, are in police custody, awaiting trial after they were arrested at the Kotoka International Airport on July 2, carrying laptop cases stuffed with six kilograms of cocaine on their way to board a British Airways flight to Heathrow, London. They have been charged with illegal possession and attempting to export drugs and if convicted, they face at least 10 years in juvenile detention.

"We have no bi-lateral agreement with Ghana for the transfer of British criminals to London for trial. When you commit a crime in Ghana you have to face the legal system of Ghana no matter your nationality," Gary Nicholls, Second Secretary, Political, Press and Public Affairs of the High Commission said.

Mr Nichols said the High Commission had confidence in the Ghanaian legal system and would therefore not interfere in the girls' case. He said however that, the High Commission is mandated to provide assistance to British citizens arrested outside the United Kingdom in terms of welfare, counselling and also facilitate contact with families or next of kin.

"In that regard, we have been providing the girls with food, clothes, fruits and magazines since their arrest."

"We are also mandated to give them a list of local lawyers to choose from and when they do, we would ensure that the lawyers would explain the implications of the case to them to give them a good understanding of the situation they are in," Mr. Nicholls said. According to Mr Mark Ewuntomah, deputy Executive Secretary of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), the girls had accepted to carry the cases containing the cocaine to London in return for cash reward of 3,000 pounds each and a paid holiday.

He said what gave them away was the weight of their laptop cases, adding that NACOB operatives at the airport found a false compartment in their cases, which they cut open to reveal white powder.

He said the girls mentioned a London-based 'Jay', who had paid for their return ticket to Accra and further promised them an all expenses-paid vacation in return for delivering the cases.

On arrival in Accra, they were met by two men - Kwame and Emmanuel - who took them to a hotel in the airport area, Mr. Ewuntomah said, adding that the night before the girls' departure, the men threw a party for them in Dansoman, an Accra suburb, before seeing them off.

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