LONDON — The son of a British aristocrat is facing life in a Kenyan prison after prosecutors alleged he used his shipping firm to smuggle nearly $6 million worth of cocaine into the East African country.
Jack Marrian has denied the charges. He claims traffickers stowed 220 lbs of the drug in containers carrying sugar for the company he manages, Mshale Commodities Ltd.
The 31-year-old — who went to the same $40,000-a-year exclusive British high school as Kate Middleton — is set to stand trial on Oct. 3 and faces a possible life sentence.
"You cannot know anything as vehemently as you know your own innocence," he told NBC News by telephone from Kenya on Friday. "I trust that justice will prevail."
Marrian — whose full name is Jack Alexander Wolf Marrian — is the son of Lady Emma Campbell, part of a line of Scottish nobles known as Clan Campbell of Cawdor. The family's estate in the Scottish Highlands is Cawdor Castle, which dates back to the 1400s.
He was born in the U.K. but has spent most of his life in Kenya, where he went to school with British Tour de France cycling champion Chris Froome. He briefly returned to Britain to attend Marlborough College, an exclusive boarding school where he was three years behind the Duchess of Cambridge, the wife of Prince William.
Marrian was charged with drug trafficking last month after officials found the cocaine stashed in sugar being shipped by Mshale, according to his lawyer, Andrew Wandabwa. Marrian is the managing director of the company, which is a subsidiary of global coffee and sugar shipping company ED&F Man.
The shipment, worth around 598 million Kenyan shillings (around $5.9 million), traveled from Brazil and went through Spain and Oman before arriving in the Kenyan port of Mombasa. From there it was destined to go on to Uganda, Wandabwa said.
Marrian spent three weeks in custody — a "very difficult experience" — before he was released on bail last month. He denied any knowledge of the illicit substance traveling with his firm's shipment. He said his company was likely targeted because the traffickers thought they could hide their cargo in the large volumes of shipments it moves each month.
"I can imagine that for a parasitic smuggler we are an appealing target," he said. Wandabwa told NBC News the trial was due to start on Oct. 3 but he did not know how long it would take. "The wheels of justice grind slowly," he said. A second suspect, Roy Francis Mwanthi, is also on the charge sheet accused of drug trafficking. He also denies the charges, according to the BBC.
ED&F Man officials were not immediately available for comment.
By Alexander Smith, Gabe Joslow - NBC/Sept. 16, 2016
Photo: Daniel Irungu,epa
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British Aristocrat's Son facing Life in Kenyan Jail on Drug Smuggling Charges