Last King: Amin Kin To Sue

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(Taban Amin has some beef with the makers of Last King of Scotland).

The late Ugandan dictator Idi Amin’s son has told The Black Star News that he has spoken with lawyers to explore a possible multi-million dollar lawsuit against the makers of the widely praised film “The Last King Of Scotland,� for defamation and for profiting from his father’s legacy.

Taban Amin, the eldest son, who holds the rank of Major General says the film, which opens today in major Cities including New York, depicts Amin as a drunken oaf although his father never drank alcohol. It’s unclear if Taban has seen the film – it does not open in Uganda until January, 2007. Another family member had positive words about Forest Whitaker, the film’s star, but attacked the distortions. Fox Searchlight didn't return a call seeking comment today.

Amin, who died August 16, 2003, while exiled in Saudi Arabia, had promoted himself to Field Marshall—he ruled from 1971 to 1979 when he seized power from Milton Obote. Human rights groups estimate that up to 300,000 Ugandans perished.

“We are going to sue these people who are taking advantage of the death of my father to reap the money,� Taban Amin said in a phone interview today. “I have already contacted my lawyers—one in the US whose name I will avail it to in a few days time.� He said one of his Ugandan attorneys who will handle the case is Michael Okecha in addition to a second law firm, Alaka & Spencer Advocates. The lawyers couldn’t be reached for comment.

In any event, the Amin family, which includes 42 surviving children and some widows, deserve up to $4 million in compensation, Taban Amin notes. The film is based on a novel of the same title. Another family member told The Black Star that the novel, which technically by definition is fictional, was filled with inaccuracies. The relative who did not want to be identified said the family has a strong case since “using an actual person as the chief character,� and depicting him drinking alcohol was false.

“Amin as an individual had his own faults but no worse than some present and past African leaders and certainly he was never a cannibal or the mass murderer as described,� said this family source. “Even the person who took the part of Amin, Forest Whitaker, having done some research of his own, has found that the facts differ markedly from the popular presentation of his character and while not whitewashing him, at least shows him not to have been the monster of popular mythology.�

This source added: “In particular Forest appreciated Amin’s virulent abhorrence of European colonialism in Africa. He has some actions to his credit.� On-location shooting for the film was conducted in Uganda. “We shall never allow anybody to play around with our family and our dad. Because Idi Amin sells people just rush with propaganda to earn money,� Taban added. “They never contacted me or my family to get the other side of the story. I know the good and bad part of it.�

“Now it is nearly 30 years,� he said, referring to 1979, when his father was deposed, “but I have never seen a mass grave created during Amin. Yet there are several in Luwero that came after Amin.� After Obote returned to power in 1980 his army battled the forces of current ruler Yoweri Museveni and human rights groups report that tens of thousands of civilians died in Uganda’s Luwero region.

 “I have no doubt about the inaccuracy in the entire film,� Taban said. “We need to challenge such people who want to reap the money from Africans, because that is the only way we can fight colonialism.�

Black Star writer Miwambo can be reached via
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