£1.2m legal aid bill after £500m of cocaine seized from ship off coast of Aberdeen

The huge quantity of drugs found on the boat 100 miles from Aberdeen.

More than £1 million has been paid out for the legal fees of the men who stood trial over a £500 million cocaine haul seized off the coast of Aberdeen.

Freedom of Information figures from the Scottish Legal Aid Board reveal that £1,236,970.80 was granted to cover the defence bill for nine men who stood trial over the largest-ever single seizure of the class A drug in the UK.

Turkish nationals Mumin Sahin, 48, and Emin Ozmen, 52, were jailed for a total of 42 years at the High Court in Glasgow last year, after the MV Hamal was stopped 100 miles off the coast of Aberdeen in April in 2015.

The drugs had an estimated value of £512m.

They were convicted after a 12-week trial – their seven co-accused were acquitted.

Sahin, who was jailed for 22 years, was awarded £158,083.51 for his defence, while Ozmen, who was handed a 20-year jail term, had £155,413.36 in legal aid paid out to cover his fees.

The men who were acquitted – Kayacan Dalgakirin, Mustafa Guven, Umit Colakel, Ibrahim Dag, Mustafa Ceviz, Abdulkadir Cirik and Muhammet Seckin – received a total of £923,473.93 for their defence.

A spokesman for the Scottish Legal Aid Board today said: “An accused person prosecuted in a Scottish court may be eligible for legal aid if they meet statutory tests. This allows the justice system to operate effectively by providing funding for lawyers for accused people so they can be defended in court.

“This was a very serious and complex case involving nine accused in a twelve-week long High Court trial. In cases like these we work with defence lawyers to ensure there is a tight control of the costs. However it was inevitable due to the size and complexity of the case that the costs would be high.”

The 3.2 tonnes of cocaine was discovered hidden in a ballast tank on board the MV Hamal. Ozmen and Sahin, both from Maltepe, Istanbul, were convictedof smuggling cocaine on the ship, as well as a separate charge of being concerned in the supply of the drug.