By Steven Candia and Carol Kasujja
The Police on Monday transferred Bernhard Glaser, a German national arrested in a suspected defilement scam, to Kampala as they heightened investigations into the matter.
The Police also transferred Abraham Bbale, a Police community liaison officer, who was arrested together with the German national on Sunday.
A security personnel tries to stop a New Vision journalist from taking photographs of Bernhard Glaser (left) during his transfer to Kampala.
Glaser is the founder of Ssese Humanitarian Services (SHS), a local organisation that takes care of children in Kalangala district.
The duo was transferred from Kalangala, where they had been briefly held, to the Police Special Investigations Unit (SIU) headquarters in Kampala.
“We are transferring them to SIU in Kampala for thorough investigations given that there was also talk of interference and attempts to cover up the matter,” Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba, who travelled to Kalangala and supervised the transfer, said.
The Police spokesperson said all the victims, many of them underage girls, will be subjected to medical examination to establish whether they had been sexually abused, as part of the investigations into the scam.
“A house has been secured for them to stay while in Kampala as the investigations go on. Those who are grown up will be allowed to go while for the young ones, we will trace their parents and reunite them,” Nabakooba said.
The Police suspect that up to 34 girls, who were staying at the children’s home, could have been sexually abused but yesterday only 21 were transferred to Kampala.
“The rest just used to come to the home during day,” Nabakooba said.
The suspects and the victims crossed from the Island to the mainland using a ferry MV Pearl that docked at Bukakata landing site at 3:00pm before proceeding to Kampala. Also transferred to Kampala were exhibits that included a dildo and vaginal lubricants that were reportedly seized in a Police search of the premises on Sunday.
The Police said no further arrests had been made, but they were still continuing with the hunt for the district probation officer and a private medical practitioner, who allegedly helped in inserting implants into the underage girls.
The implants were to help the girls, who allegedly slept in turns with Glaser, to guard against pregnancies.
The Police said they are also probing how the children ended up in the school amid talk that some of them were defilement victims reported to the Police, but later transferred to the facility.
The team of detectives was dispatched from Kampala on Saturday evening on orders of the Police boss, Gen. Kale Kayihura. They made the arrest on Sunday and cordoned off the facility now declared a scene of crime.
This was after an earlier medical examination on two of the girls aged 12 and 14 indicated they had been defiled. The Police are also exploring a host of other offences, including child trafficking.
During a recent visit by New Vision to the home, one of the girls was found sleeping in Glaser’s bed and she told New Vision that she had spent the night with him.
Although Glaser concedes spending nights with the girls in turns, he denies having sex with them on account of his advanced age which, he says, necessitates that he be taken care of by the girls. He says he only hugs them as they sleep.
Though born in Germany, Glaser, 65, a retired health consultant, on social media describes himself as a Belgian Idealist, having migrated there in his tender age. The Police suspect Glaser could be a paedophile.
The suspect says he looks after the 34 girls who had been sexually abused, at the request of their parents after they failed to pay their school fees.
Those who have sexually transmitted infections, he says, are tested and put on treatment until they cure, but some choose to remain behind. The girls say Glaser takes good care of them and they look much healthier than when they were still in their homes.
Marie Stopes speaks out
However, the Police are investigating circumstances under which the underage girls were fitted with implants,allegedly by an official from Marie Stopes, Edward Zimbe, the Marie Stopes Uganda operations director told New Vision that they have never gone to Ssese Humanitarian Services to administer contraceptives to the girls as Glaser had said.
“We do not work with any particular institution."
Some of the exhibits the Police said they seized from the scene of crime
We offer family planning services from government facilities because our role is to supplement government services,” Zimbe saidd.
“It is, however, likely that some of the girls could have got contraceptives from our health workers because it is not our work to find out where they come from. Our duty is to provide services,” he said.
Glaser a rape victim?
I came to Uganda in 2006 as a volunteer. My assignment was to teach families on islands different family planning methods. In January 2005, I discussed the issue with an NGO (Idealist.org) which was sending me to Africa in January 2006, when I was still in Zambia.
We Googled and my team leader decided that I visit Kalangala, which had a good number of school dropouts due to poverty.
When I came to Uganda, I wanted to start sensitising men, but they did not welcome my idea. I felt like going back to Zambia, but my friends advised me to stay.
After three months in Uganda, I spoke to my family, especially my wife, that the number of girls who were engaged in prostitution at the island was alarming. As a father of a daughter, I could not visualise young girls being raped.
So, I opened up my house for them. The first girl I got is Annita. She was in her Primary Seven vacation, but in Senior Six now. I am a father figure, qualified doctor who knows his ethics.
So, I have never defiled any of my daughters. I just help rape victims because I am a result of rape; my mother was raped, my wife was raped and many of our sponsors are victims of rape. Since I am cancerous and diabetic, I have no feelings for sex. I am even too old.
My bedroom is always open because I have nothing to hide.