By Chris Kiwawulo
Court in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia has sentenced a middle-aged Ugandan to 10 years in prison over drug trafficking.
According to sources in Saudi Arabia, Hajji Issa Kagga Ssebugwawo, who has been working as a driver there, was sentenced on Wednesday together with Joseph Mwambula, a Kenyan.
Ssebugwawo and Mwambula were living in Dammam, the capital of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia where they were working with AL Bassami International Group, a transport agency.
Ssebugwawo, who hails from Masaka district and also has a home in Kampala, joined the transport agency as a trailer driver in November 2009.
The two were arrested last October in connection with drug trafficking and have been on trial for about 11 months.
According to the sources, the two were first tried in a Riyadh court where they denied the charges before they were transferred to Mandily prosecution court in Jeddah from where they were convicted.
“They were arrested with 80kg of banghi in their trailer which was brought from Yemen into Saudi Arabia last year,” revealed the source that also lives in Saudi Arabia.
The two were convicted of smuggling banghi, a banned substance in Saudi Arabia. They have been on remand at Barri-man prison in Jeddah, Saudi’s second largest city, a prison where drug traffickers are mainly detained.
After serving their sentence, the duo faces deportation within six hours immediately after release, according to Saudi rules.
Several Ugandans have been arrested in different countries, especially Asian countries like China and Malaysia over drug trafficking.
Uganda’s ambassador to China, Charles Wagidoso, last August told Sunday Vision that 50 Ugandans were being held in Chinese jails over drug trafficking, 20 of whom are on death row. The others were sentenced to either life imprisonment or 15 years in jail.
Ugandans have also been apprehended in the US and the latest arrest was in March 2012 when 42-year-old Michael Lyadda, a resident of Valencia, California in the US was netted over drug trafficking.