By REON SUDDABY
A Somalian man has admitted importing the drug catha edulis, or khat, into New Zealand, but is denying possessing the drug for supply or trying to sell it.
Ahmed Abdullahi Mohamoud, 50, admitted the importation charge at the start of his trial in the Hamilton District Court yesterday, after his lawyer Kit Clews' original defence was ruled to have no legal foundation by Judge Merelina Burnett.
Crown prosecutor Rebecca Mann told the court police searched Mohamoud's Boundary Rd, Hamilton, property on December 7 last year, and found just over 1kg of the drug hidden in the home's master bedroom.
The drugs were in snap-lock bags placed inside supermarket bags.
A total of $3000 cash, mainly made up of $20 notes, was also found in the wardrobe.
When spoken to by police Mohamoud said the drug was his and, although he knew it was illegal in New Zealand, he used it as a diabetic remedy.
He said the drug had been sent to him by people in Somalia and Australia, and the money had been sent to him from his brothers in the US.
Khat is commonly used in many African countries, but in New Zealand is classified as a class C controlled drug.
It can be chewed or brewed into a drink, and police say it stimulates the central nervous system and can be highly addictive.
Mr Clews' original defence, that Mohamoud was ignorant of the law, was quashed by Judge Burnett.
However, when he addressed the jury a second time, after Mohamoud admitted the importation charge, Mr Clews said Mohamoud neither sold the khat nor tried to sell it. The trial, before a jury of nine men and three women, is expected to take up to three days.
Source: Waikato Times, November 13, 2007