Fri, 27 Jun 2003

Drug trial starts for two Nigerians

TANGERANG: A local district court began on Thursday the trial of two Nigerian men charged with possessing six kilograms of heroin in Tangerang, Banten province, for which they face a possible death penalty.

Prosecutors Puji Raharjo and R. Vidiato said the defendants, Michael Titus Igweh, 23, and Hillary K. Chimezia, 24, were found to be organizing drug trafficking.

The case involved an Indonesian woman, Marlena, and a Zimbabwean, Kholisani Nkomo alias Ichku Eberu Okolwaja.

Igweh and Chimezia were arrested in August last year following a tipoff from residents who had frequently seen drug transactions taking place at Marlena's house in the Vila Melati Mas housing complex in Serpong, Tangerang.

However, Marlena had died of a lung ailment while Okolwaja had died due to an AIDS-related illness at the Kramat Djati Police Hospital, East Jakarta, amid the investigation into the case.

Both Igweh and Chimezia were charged with violating Article 82 of Law No. 22/1997 on narcotics, which carries a maximum penalty of death.

Presiding judge Permadi adjourned the trial until next Thursday to hear the defense plea from the defendants' lawyers. --JP