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Zim woman gets 10 years in jail in India for carrying 8.5kg of heroin

An Indian court on Wednesday, 21 February sentenced a 40-year-old Zimbabwean woman to 10 years of imprisonment for having 8.5kg of methamphetamine and heroin in 2022.

The special NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act court also imposed a fine of ₹2 lakh (US$200 000) on the accused Rosie Diamon.

As reported by the Hindustan Times, Diamon was arrested on 13 February 2022, after the Air Intelligence Unit had received information the previous day, that a passenger would be arriving with narcotics substances.

Acting on the received information, unit officers kept a watch on the passengers. They recognized Diamon through her passport and noticed she was carrying a trolley bag and a handbag.

The officers checked her trolley bag and it was found that the files and folders in the bag contained 8.486 kg of yellowish-coloured powder granules and white crystals. In convicting Diamon, special judge AV Kharkar noted:

On going through the evidence in its entirety, it precipitates that the accused was found in possession of a commercial quantity of contraband methamphetamine and heroin. The evidence of the prosecution witness is trustworthy and reliable.

In her written argument, Diamon said her cousin was part of a gang from Zimbabwe and that he had lured her for money, handing over a bag which she was asked to carry to India, in which the contraband was found.

She pleaded for leniency saying she was unaware of the bag’s contents and belonged to a poor family with her children dependent on her.

The court noted that the accused had neither denied that the contraband was recovered from the bag nor that the bag from which the contraband was recovered was in her possession. The court said:

Rather, in her written arguments, she has submitted that the bag was handed over to her by her cousin, who is involved with a gang.

In such a case the court will have to presume that the accused was carrying the contraband and that her possession was conscious.

In April 2018, another Zimbabwean woman, Betty Rame (38), was arrested by a Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) team at the IGI Airport with two concealed bags full of a crystalline substance, which tested positive for Methamphetamine.

In August 2021, Rame was convicted and sentenced to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment with a ₹1 lakh fine under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

However, in June 2023, the Delhi High Court suspended the sentence, noting that there was an alleged non-compliance with the procedure for sampling the seized substance and that the accused had already undergone over four years in custody.

Justice Anish Dayal said the standing orders issued by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and the Ministry of Finance ought to be respected by investigating agencies.

Dayal said the lack of compliance with these standing orders imports an element of reasonable doubt, which would also impact the issue of proving the guilt of the accused.

Rame’s lawyers had argued that the NCB did not collect the sample as per norms.

They said the contraband was admittedly seized from two separate bags and that the bags were subsequently mixed.

The lawyers also contended that as per the standing order, the contents of the bags should not have been mixed to avoid the substance “losing its identity”.

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