Uganda Aide’s U.K. Drug Trial Again Adjourned

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In July, 10 Ugandan nationals were sentenced to death in China after conviction on drug offenses.

[Africa News Update]

The UK trial of an aide to General Salim Saleh, brother of Uganda’s president, on drug trafficking charged adjourned for the second time when the defense team asked the Court here for more time to prepare.

Gen. Saleh’s aide Rose Rosalind Birungi made an appearance October 26 at Isle-Worth Crown Court here in the U.K. Prosecutors had no objections when her defense team, comprising Euba Afolabi, Patrick Asiimwe and Peter Mashate Magomu, applied for the adjournment. The lawyers want to study the evidence provided by U.K. prosecutors Natalie Hart-Hines and Tom Bladley.

U.K. law enforcement tape recorded an interview with Birungi upon her arrest The Black Star News has learned. It's unclear whether she implicates others.

“We applied for the adjournment of this trial because the evidence being adduced against our client--are like a fishing expedition,” says lawyer Asiimwe. “With such fuzzy evidence we obviously needed an adjournment of the case.”

Birungi was arrested at Heathrow airport May 20, 2007. Birungi, who is an aide to Gen. Saleh, Uganda’s minister of micro-finance and brother of President Yoweri K. Museveni, also doubles as Information minister for Toro, a traditional Kingdom in Uganda.

Sniffer dogs detected drugs in her belonging when she attempted to enter the U.K. through Heathrow Airport—nearly 18 pounds of contraband was discovered with a street value of over $260,000. Conviction could result in a jail term of 14 years.

Reached by telephone while in London, Uganda’s foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa declined comment, saying he was traveling to Washington, D.C.

Drug trafficking involving Ugandans has become a major problem. In July, 10 Ugandan nationals were sentenced to death in China after conviction on drug offenses. They allegedly carried drugs in excess of 50 grams which in China amounts to a capital offense. One Ugandan is believed to have been already hanged but there has been no confirmation.

Investigative journalist Miwambo writes for The Black Star from the U.K.

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