KAMPALA – The International Police (Interpol) has released a new list of 12 Ugandans recently convicted and sentenced to death over drug trafficking in China.
In July this year, the Chinese authorities executed two Ugandans — Omar Ddamulira and Ham Andrew Ngobi over drug trafficking.
Kasingye identified the Ugandans recently sentenced to death in China as Joseph Kiberu Mulindwa, Sara Basima, Alex Kayiwa, Benjamin Bisuka, Derrick Kiryowa, Willy Musoke, Ambrose Tsimi, Scovia Nakintu, John Luke Wasonye, Peter Wamoka and Geoffrey Ogwal.
There was no information yet about their next of kin in Uganda.
Kasingye also said the list recently received from Interpol on Ugandans convicted abroad also includes a number of people serving long prison sentences in China, Japan and Kenya.
These include Paulo Kato serving life in prison in China, Noah Sekabira jailed for 14 years in Japan and Fred Kerry Kiggundu who is serving 12 years in Japan for trafficking drugs.
Another Ugandan, Julian Kiconco, was sentenced to nine years imprisonment in neighbouring Kenya, while Faith Okai is still battling her case in court in China, according to Kasingye.
He said the Interpol were hunting for two suspected Nigerian drug barons believed to have lured some of the Ugandans into drug trafficking which landed them in trouble abroad.
The Nigerian suspects were identified as Arthur Martin Omenaudo and Tony Ugochucwu.
Kasingye appealed to Ugandans not to be used by drug barons, warning that laws relating to drug related offences in China are very stringent.
He also advised Ugandans travelling abroad to avoid carrying luggage whose contents they do not know.
Efforts to get comments from the foreign ministry were fruitless.
According to Uganda’s Ambassador to China, Charles Wagidoso, most Ugandans caught in the illicit drugs trade are mere conduits for the bigger players. It is suspected most Ugandans are lured into the illicit trade by Nigerian drug barons.
A statement issued by Uganda’s embassy in China last month indicated that there were 23 Ugandans on death row in the Asian country. Twenty-four were serving life sentences and 28 had not yet to be sentenced.
According to foreign affairs ministry, investigations showed that most of those arrested were job seekers who were recruited by drug traffickers to smuggle drugs into China.
Grace Akullo, the director of the Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Directorate, said drug traffickers use Uganda because the punishments in Uganda are lenient once they are arrested.
She says of all the 52 cases they registered last year, 49 traffickers pleaded guilty and they paid fines totalling sh35m before marching to freedom.
By Simon Masaba, The New Vision