73-year-old passenger denies importing cocaine
A SPANISH pensioner has told a jury he did not have sole custody of a suitcase containing £500,000 worth of cocaine which customs officers found with him at Bristol Airport.
Jose Sekulitis-Gomez said he had been on a trip to Africa with a friend, who has since vanished.
During their visit to the Gambia and Senegal in March the pair had guides known only by their first names, he told Bristol Crown Court yesterday.
Sekulitis-Gomez said his friend, Jose Luis Calvo Serra, was instructed to fly to Bristol on an errand. The following day he flew on to join him and was stopped with the cocaine.
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Gomez, of Branganza in Madrid, denies importing a controlled drug.
The pensioner, who uses special equipment to help with his breathing, said he and Calvo were in Dakar, Senegal, when his friend said representatives of a US-based company, called Manpowers, had told him to go to Bristol.
Speaking via a Spanish interpreter, Sekulitis-Gomez told the court: "He said he had to collect documents in Bristol to do with some paintings from Spanish painters.
"He (Calvo) said he would leave Dakar on Monday and I would be travelling on my own. There was no room in the plane to travel together."
Sekulitis-Gomez said that when he left Dakar, he prepared his case but two women from his hotel helped him pack. African guides called Mike and George called at his hotel and George carried the case to a car, which took them to the airport in Dakar.
The court has heard traces of cocaine were detected in Sekulitis-Gomez's glasses case. He explained he had asked where his glasses were, so he could read on his flight to Bristol, and George had retrieved them from Gomez's case.
At Dakar airport George had Gomez's case wrapped in plastic for security purposes, the court heard.
The pensioner denies all knowledge of the four kilos of cocaine found secreted behind panels in his case.
Calvo Serra was detained as he went to fly out of Bristol, but was bailed and has not been seen since.
The case continues.