Uganda President’s Aide Gets Soft Sentence In Bribe Case

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[International: Uganda]

As Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni campaigns in New York for his country to gain a seat on the Security Council, embarrassing news comes from London with the sentencing yesterday of his top science advisor on corruption charges.

Ananias Tumukunde, 32, President Museveni’s advisor on Science and Technology was sentenced at the Southwark Crown Court in the U.K. Monday, after he pleaded guilty to accepting more than $160,000 in bribes from a Danish national employed at U.K.-based CBRN (chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear) Team.

Tumukunde who initially pleaded not guilty was arrested at Heathrow Airport, earlier this year. His lawyer, Rupert Pardoe, says Tumukunde had received only about $24,000 of the bribe and intended to give the money to his ill mother.

The Dane, Niels Jørgen Tobiasen, 55, a co-defendant, is a managing director of Wiltshire-based CBRN; he had already pleaded guilty earlier and is to be sentenced Friday. In an earlier interview with The Black Star News, Ian Day, a top executive at CBRN, denied that his firm had ever supplied any chemical or biological agents to Uganda authorities.

Day said his company had a contract to train Uganda on “defensive” measures including how to detect if there were chemical agents in the air; he said the East African country had been worried of a chemical weapons attack when it hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings last year.

The Kampala regime has never officially commented on the arrest of Tumukunde.

"What you did is serious," Judge James Wadsworth admonished Tumukunde in court, yesterday. He recommended that Tumukunde be deported after serving his sentence.

Yet, Tumukunde could soon be back in Uganda, The Black Star News has learned.
“Tumukunde has already served 167 days in custody. This will count as double towards the sentence he was given; 334 days,” said Russell Hayes, a Crown Prosecution Services official. “This leaves 31 days of which he will serve a maximum of half.”

The U.K. has a precedent for being lenient on corruption charges involving countries with which it enjoys a special relationship . The government once halted investigation into a reported multi-million dollars bribery case involving payment by British firms to top Saudi officials in “the national interest.”

The U.K. authorities charged in the Tumukunde case that after CBRN concluded a deal with Uganda authorities Tumukunde asked for the bribe saying it was a form of “local tax” common in Uganda. The bribery was in connection with a deal for over $420,000 with Uganda authorities; the contract was one of six worth a total of more than $1 million.

Tobiasen, the Danish national, sent five payments total more than $160,000 to Tumukunde and a Ugandan military officer who was attached to Presidential Guard Brigade, Lt. Rusoke Tagaswire, who is still at large and is wanted by the U.K.'s Scotland Yard.

Detectives from the City of London police learned of the payments and arrested Tumukunde and Tobiasen on April 2, 2008 and July 17, of this same year, respectively.

Tumukunde was arrested after Ugandan nationals based in London tipped off U.K. officials.

“We shall continue fighting corrupt officials who have turned Uganda into a den of thieves,” said, Princesses Sarah Male Kamulali, who was among those gathered outside the court. “We respect the court’s ruling and it has vindicated our effort to fighting corruption.”

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