Ugandan: Drug Charges Trial Date

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Africa News Update

A September 17 trial date was today ordered for an aide to the Uganda president’s brother who is charged with drug trafficking to the United Kingdom.

The official, who had traveled on diplomatic passport entered a not-guilty plea before a presiding judge of Crown Court at Isle-worth and was returned to Bronzefield Ashford prison.

The official, Rosalind Birungi, did not apply for bail and her lawyers said it was a “tactical” maneuver, without elaborating. Last month the lawyers said there was problem coming up with $100,000 surety for the bail.

Birungi, who is an aide to Salim Saleh, the brother of President Yoweri K. Museveni and Uganda’s minister for micro-financing, was arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport May 20.

According to police, sniffer dogs detected the narcotics and a search revealed about 18 pounds of drugs valued at $260,000; the type of alleged narcotics hasn’t yet been revealed.

Presiding judge, J. McGregor set August 16, for the prosecution team led by Natalie Hart-Hines and Tom Bladley and the defendant’s counsel to provide witness statements; August 23, the prosecution is to provide the sample of the drugs in question and counsels to interview; and, September 6, for the defense team’s response. Trial starts 11 days thereafter.

After the charges were read, Birungi, clad in all black, said, audibly and calmly, “I’m not guilty.”
“You have to go back to prison until September 17,” Judge, McGregor told Birungi.

The Uganda official, who doubles as information minister in Toro, one of Uganda’s traditional kingdoms, faces criminal charges that could draw 14 years prison sentence if convicted.

Lawyers representing Birungi were Uganda-born U.K.-based barristers Patrick Asiimwe and Peter Mashate Mugoma, as well as Barrister Euba Afolabi, a British national.

Miwambo writes for The Black Star News from London



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