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Friday, 04 January 2013 13:52

Cannabis consumer guilty of possession only

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Magistrate Niroshinee Ramsoondar sitting at the Intermediate Court has recently  found a former University of Mauritius Student, Reetish Kokil, guilty under count 1 of information for possession of 67 cannabis seeds weighting 0.66 grams for the purpose of cultivation  in breach of section 34 (1) (b) of the Dangerous Drug Act.
However, on count 2 of the charge for breach of section 30 (1) (f) (i) of the Dangerous Drug Act, the Court has acquitted the accused because the prosecution has failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt the element of distribution.  Accused, a 22-year-old university drop –out and a resident of Ylang Ylang Avenue, Sodnac, Quatre-Bornes pleaded not guilty to both counts and was defended by counsel Mr Rama Valayden.

At the outset of the case Mr Valayden stated that the actual possession of the cannabis seeds and drugs is not disputed, but the elements of cultivation and distribution are disputed.  Accused contended as per his defence that he is a mere consumer of drugs, albeit heavy, as opposed to a dealer.

On 16 January 2012 at about 12.30 hours accused was drying his hair in the bathroom when his father opened the door to ADSU team armed with a search warrant. Following a search in accused’s bedroom the ADSU team secured the cannabis seeds and 4 pouliahs of cannabis wrapped in cellophane paper for a market value of Rs 7,700.

“In the absence of any other co-existing circumstances which could weaken or destroy the inference that the seeds were meant to be cultivated, this Court is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the accused had in his possession- with the knowledge and control- 67 cannabis seeds weighing 0.66 g for the purpose of cultivating cannabis plants and accordingly finds him guilty as charged under count 1,” the Magistrate concluded in her ruling.

As for count 2 of the information, the Magistrate pointed out that the accused has never disputed the fact that he was a cannabis consumer and in his defence statement produced in Court he has denied that he had ever admitted to the police that he was going to distribute cannabis to his friends. “True it is that the version is not given under oath but no cogent contradictory evidence on those lines has been adduced by the prosecution,” underlined the Court.

There is no evidence emanating from the Prosecution that accused intended to distribute, was seen distributing or attempted to distribute cannabis to friends or others. The fact that the cannabis was packed and wrapped as it was is hardly an inference of distribution.” The Court reserves the sentence for a later date.



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