The British High Commissioner to Ghana, Mr Jon Benjamin has said the eight years and eight months jail sentence given to the cocaine courier, Nayele Ametefe is within existing guidelines for that particular offence in the United Kingdom.
There have been comments in the media suggesting that the jail term given Nayele was not deterrent enough.
But speaking on Joy FM Wednesday morning, Mr Benjamin said there were sentencing guidelines in the United Kingdom and there are a lot of things that are taken into consideration such as the cooperation of the person concerned.
Other mitigating factors, he said included “whether they pleaded guilty as in this case whereby avoiding the need for what could have been a long trial.”
“At the end of the day, I work with the executive and the judiciary is independent… I’m not going to comment other than say it was within the guidelines that exist for that particular offence.”
Nayele Ametefe, the Ghanaian – Austrian woman in the centre of the cocaine saga was Tuesday sentenced to 8 years and 8 months in prison by the Isleworth Crown Court in Middlesex, London in the United Kingdom.
Before pronouncing judgment, the presiding judge, Judge Edmonds, QC, observed that the crime warranted 13 years of sentence but he was considering all the mitigating factors the defense solicitor put in and that the 8 years 8 months was enough by way of leniency.
The court set July 6, 2015 to decide on the US$23,000 and £6000 found on her at the time of her arrest at the Heathrow Airport.
Nayele was arrested on November 10 at the Heathrow Airport after attempting to enter the UK with the cocaine in her hand luggage.
A total of 12 people have been arrested in Ghana in connection with the case.
They include two ladies; Nana Akua Amponsah and Sadalia Sandra Nuhu who reportedly travelled with Nayele but absconded after the latter was nabbed by the Police in the UK.
Also, three public officials have been charged with abetment of crime; exportation of narcotic drugs, contrary to sections 56 (c) and 1 (1) of the Narcotic Drugs (Control, Enforcement and Sanctions) Act, 1990 (PNDC law 236).
They are a Deputy Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abiel Ashitey Armah, Theophilus Kissi of the Research Department attached to the VVIP Lounge at the Kotoka International Airport and Abubakar Ahmed, a civil servant.
In the interview on Joy FM Wednesday morning, Mr Jon Benjamin refrained from commenting specifically on the Nayale case.
“I am not going to get into the details of this specific case because after all, if you are going to have confidential cooperation between two countries, you can’t do that if you are commenting on it publicly all the time.”
Asked whether the British authorities would collaborate with the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) in Ghana on the matter he said, “…it is common and normal practice for there to be that sort of cooperation between countries, it varies from case to case but there is a certain amount of exchange of information.”
“There are investigations that continue beyond the time remit of any specific court case, that would be normal but we won’t be commenting on the details of this particular case,” he said.
NACOB at the time of Nayele’s arrest last year issued a statement and explained that it collaborated with the British authorities and that they knew she was heading to the UK.
But in a response the British High Commission in Accra denied collaborating with NACOB in that particular case.
The UK High Commission said they had no knowledge that Ms Ametetefeh was heading to the UK with drug.
Commenting on that Mr Benjamin said, “we saw the need to correct what we thought was a factual inaccuracy but from our perspective, that doesn’t in any way affect our determination to continue collaborating with NACOB, indeed the statement that you mentioned said that we have collaborated with NACOB for several years and we will continue to do that.”