Uganda Aide’s Drug Trial Adjourned

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[African News Update]

The U.K. trial of an aide to the brother of Uganda’s president on drug trafficking charges was today postponed after defense attorneys asked for more time.

Rose Birungi’s lawyers told the Court that tape recordings of an interview U.K. authorities had with their client after her arrest, provided by prosecutors, were not sufficiently audible and that it needed replacements. Birungi is an aide to General Salim Saleh, Uganda’s minister of micro financing and brother of President Yoweri K. Museveni.

After sniffer dogs detected 16 pounds of narcotics in her luggage, U.K. police say, Birungi was arrested at Heathrow airport May 20, 2007. A search revealed narcotics valued at about $260,000, the authorities say. Birungi had traveled on diplomatic passport.

The Black Star News has learned that Birungi was interviewed by U.K. police and detectives; it’s unclear whether she implicated others. Birungi’s lawyers tell The Black Star that the poor quality of the two audio tapes provided by prosecutors prompted them to ask for the delay.

“We applied for the adjournment of this trial because a number of issues hadn’t been addressed by the prosecution side,” says Uganda-born lawyer, Patrick Asiimwe, one of the lawyers representing Birungi. The lawyer adds that the “interview on both tapes supplied to us are not clear at all” and that “we wanted to hear what exactly she said during the interview.”

Moreover, says Asiimwe, whatever Birungi said when interrogated might have been impacted by the fact that she had suffered family tragedy. “This is a person who had just lost a close relative,” he adds, referring to the death of  Brigadier Noble Mayombo, the permanent secretary in the defense ministry and a close advisor to President Museveni.

Birungi who didn’t have to make a court appearance today has been in custody since her arrest. She also doubles as minister of information in Toro, one of Uganda’s traditional kingdoms.

She faces up to 14 years imprisonment if convicted of the charges. Other lawyers on her defense team are Peter Magomu Mashate and Euba Afolabi, a British national.

The Presiding judge is J. McGregor.

Investigative reporter Miwambo writes for The Black Star News from London. He can be reached via


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