Scotland Yard To Probe Kanungu

Africa News Online, New Vision (Kampala), April 16, 2000
By Giles Foden

Kampala - Forensic experts and pathologists from the British Metropolitan Police, the Scotland Yard are expected in Uganda to take over investigations into the Kanungu church massacre.

Highly placed sources said Uganda has written to the British government asking for their immediate intervention following discovery of more bodies in mass graves.

"We are writing to seek their assistance especially in the field of forensic experts," said the source.

Police deputy spokesman Eric Naigambi said Saturday, " We need their assistance because the whole field is new to us and the magnitude is beyond our capacity."

The experts are expected to study the mutilated bodies recovered from mass graves in the compounds of some of the cult leaders to establish the cause of their deaths.

President Yoweri Museveni said last month that the best investigators in the country would handle the probe into the cult's activities and if possible foreign investigators would be called in. Government is treating the Kanungu incident as a high profile criminal act. Over 1000 people have been confirmed dead in the March 17 inferno and other deaths before it.

Naigambi said at this time Police required assistance in all fields but in the long run they would want assistance in the area of capacity building.

There was no official confirmation from the British High Commission whether they had received the letter or not.

The acting Director of CID Erasmus Opio Friday told Sunday Vision that both Government chemist and pathologists' reports on some of the bodies were out.

"We have got the post mortem reports for a few bodies. Certainly other reports will continue coming in gradually," he said. The reports are for the bodies that have been positively identified by relatives. Those identified include: Joseph Naymiranda, Stephen Katege, Imelda Bwongezire, Beatrice Kembabazi, Rosemary Kengozi, Christopher Tugize, Robert Bikorumuhangi, Florence Tumuhimbise, Rogers Tumwine and Pokeria Tinaikakwa. Opio said the analysis by pathologists from Makerere University on the charred bodies indicated that they died of neurotic shock as a result of the fire.

Results from the bodies dug out of the mass graves are not yet out but pathologists say they could have died of mechanical strangulation. "The government chemist has confirmed the fire was caused by highly inflammable substance- gasoline (petrol,)" Opio said.

A 15 man CID team headed by the officer in charge of criminal investigations, Godfrey Bangirana, has been in Kanungu since the church inferno. Exhumations were suspended due to lack of logistics.

Opio said Friday that they would continue with the exhumations after getting all the necessary equipment like protective gear.

He said government had intervened because police alone could not handle the situation.

Opio said although no international help had been received, the International Police (Interpol) had asked for the post-mortem reports.

The New vision was also told last month that detectives from at least eight European and African countries had expressed interest in the hunt for the cult leaders.

The Uganda Police this week issued an international arrest warrant for six leaders of the cult, including chairman Joseph Kibwetere 62, Vice Credonia Mwerinde 56.

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