Saturday 17 March 2018

High Court asks Italian authorities to answer questions on mother-of-six suspected of being a drug importer

Aisha Ahmed
Aisha Ahmed

Ruaidhrí Giblin

The High Court has asked Italian authorities to answer certain questions regarding a mother-of-six suspected of being a drug importer in Italy where she's wanted to serve a 20-year prison sentence imposed in her absence.

Aisha Ahmed (49), AKA Gloria Anwulika Aro (47), was arrested at her home at Sundale Parade, Tallaght, Dublin 24 last year, on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by the Italian authorities, who have been looking for the Nigerian native for several years.

The arrest warrant alleges that Ms Ahmed had the role of “promoter, leader and organiser” in an association that imported, sold, distributed and traded “remarkable quantities” of cocaine in Italy between September 1999 and June 2000.

Ms Ahmed had given her name as Gloria Aro and her date of birth as being in December 1967, when she was arrested. She supplied an Irish passport to that effect.

She previously denied being known as Aisha Ahmed or by the alias, Linda, and denied using a date of birth in 1965 but resiled from this position at a subsequent bail hearing.

Her separated husband, Yemi Moshood Olatunde (47), AKA Roy Yemmy Andrew Aro, with an address at Sundale Parade, Tallaght, Dublin,was also arrested in October.

Mr Olatunde AKA Aro, a taxi driver until he went into custody last year, was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in Italy because he allegedly associated with other persons in order to commit offences concerning the purchase, transfer, distribution, trade and unlawful possession of large quantities of cocaine.

In particular, Mr Olatunde was allegedly proved to be one of the leaders of the criminal organisation at issue and was guilty of a number of offences of possession and sale of cocaine.

Extradition proceedings involving Mr Olatunde are still ongoing.

Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly sought further information from the Italian judicial authorities today concerning the awareness Ms Ahmed did or did not have of certain judicial procedural matters at certain times.

The formal questions could not be agreed between lawyers for Ms Ahmed and for the Minister for Justice so the questions will be formalised before the court today.

Counsel for Ms Ahmed, John Noonan Bl, submitted that his client had not been made aware of an alleged scheduled trial.

The question was whether she had actual notice of a scheduled trial, Mr Noonan said, and “it appeared she did not have notice”.

Notice was served on her defence lawyer and that fell short of the requirments for extradition, Mr Noonan said.

She accepted that she had dealt with lawyers initially while she was in custody for 10 days, Mr Noonan said, but swore she did not give a mandate to lawyers.

Once she was released from custody in Italy, she came to Ireland and had no further dealings with the lawyer, Mr Noonan said.

Ms Ahmed was “a fugitive” in the words of the Italians, counsel for the Justice Minister, Anne-Marie Lawlor said.

Ms Lawlor said Ms Ahmed had been charged “with the contents of wiretapping” and was fully aware there were proceedings in being against her. She then “fled the country”.

Ms Lawlor reminded the judge that Ms Ahmed had previously pursued an argument that she was not Ms Ahmed and had "lied to the court".

She was now asking the court to believe, contrary to everything the Italians were saying, her instructions to lawyers ended in circumstances where she believed she was free to walk away from Italy, Ms Lawlor said.

Questions regarding Ms Ahmed's knowledge at certain times during the process will be formalised before the High Court today.

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