, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 1 – A Kenyan woman who was arrested last year in the Philippines for trafficking in narcotics has been jailed for life.
Asha Atieno Ogutu, 24, was also ordered to pay a fine of three million pesos (equivalent to Sh5.8 million) for shipping the drug commonly referred to by Filipinos as Shabu.
She was arrested on September 29 after police found her with the drugs at the Mactan Cebu International Airport. She was reportedly carrying three kilos of the drug in her travelling bag.
A local newspaper, Sunstar reported that Ogutu’s sentence was delivered on Monday by Judge Toribio Quiwag of the Regional Trial Court Branch 27 who ordered that she be locked up at the Lapu-Lapu city jail.
The paper reports that she cried when personnel of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology escorted her to start her sentence.
“We comforted her,” said a 48-year-old female prisoner who identified herself simply as Ate speaking to the Sunstar. “We told her not to lose hope.”
On Monday, while her fellow prisoners gathered at the jail building’s hallway, Ogutu stayed in her cell and refused to come out for media interviews.
Ate said the Kenyan girl used to read the Bible every day prior to her sentencing, but she did not see her holding the holy book after the court decision.
“I think there’s no hope for me,” she recalled Ogutu saying when she returned from the court.
“You need to be strong for your children,” she told Ogutu.
Quoting local authorities, the newspaper said Ogutu became the first foreign woman to be detained at the facility.
Lapu-Lapu city jail deputy warden Jonnabelle Roiles said she will be transferred to the Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong City.
“We are now processing the papers for her transfer,” she said, adding they are still awaiting documents from the court.
Asked whether Ogutu could be repatriated to Kenya, the 26-year-old jail senior inspector said she was not aware of any extradition treaty between Kenya and the Philippines.
Lawyer Rico Amores, Ogutu’s counsel, said they would seek a reversal of the court’s decision and were prepared to go all the way to the Supreme Court.
When she first appeared in court, Ogutu reportedly pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against her, insisting she had no knowledge of the drugs found in her luggage.
Jail mates, most of them arrested for drug-related cases, described her as an easy going woman.
(Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 01, 2012)