A lawyer representing one of the two Akasha brothers being held in the US on drug-smuggling charges requested court on Friday that the siblings be housed in the same prison in New York City.
“The two brothers are separated, do not have any family here and no family from Africa to visit them,” Dawn Marcella Cardi, the attorney representing Ibrahim Akasha, told the presiding judge.
Ibrahim, 28, and Baktash Akasha, 40, are both “religious Muslims,” Ms Cardi added.
“They have requested to at least be in the same prison.”
Ibrahim Akasha is being held in a facility in New York City, Baktash is housed in a detention centre five miles away in Brooklyn.
Judge Victor Marrero instructed federal prosecutors to ascertain from the US Bureau of Prisons “if there is any compelling reason why that request could not be considered”.
Ms Cardi made the application in a Manhattan courtroom during a conference convened for prosecutors to disclose their evidence to defence attorneys.
Asked for an update, prosecutor Emil Bove told the court that “the investigation is ongoing”.
“Defence lawyers have been given all evidence currently available, but there is material in Africa that we are seeking to obtain,” Mr Bove said.
“Part of evidence still being sought are recordings of conversations,” the prosecutor added.
HUSSEIN IN HOSPITAL
The court scheduled the next session for July 7. The trial itself may not begin until next year.
The Akasha brothers appeared in court on Friday wearing loose-fitting blue and green prison uniform similar to what surgeons wear in operating theatres.
They were not handcuffed. The brothers and their co-defendants – Vijay Goswami, a 55-year-old Indian national, and Gulam Hussein, a 61-year-old Pakistani — were all shackled during their previous court appearance in February.
Mr Hussein was not present at Friday’s session.
His attorney, Phillip Weinstein, told the Sunday Nation prior to the start of the proceedings that he was notified on Thursday that Mr Hussein has been admitted to hospital.
Mr Weinstein said he has not yet been informed of his client’s condition or the location of the hospital where Mr Hussein is being treated.
Mr Hussein is a diabetic who requires daily doses of insulin.
The four defendants were brought to the United States in January this year.
They are accused of conspiring to transport 98 kilogrammes of heroin to the US.
If convicted, they could face life imprisonment.