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Wednesday,August 15,2018 04:41 AM

Sebutinde to probe junk helicopters

By Vision Reporter

Added 10th November 2000 03:00 AM

High Court Justice Julia Sebutinde is to lead the probe into the controversial purchase of two unoverhauled combat helicopters from Belarus by the defence ministry in 1996.

High Court Justice Julia Sebutinde is to lead the probe into the controversial purchase of two unoverhauled combat helicopters from Belarus by the defence ministry in 1996. The judicial commission of inquiry to handle the matter was announced by the Government yesterday. Uganda paid $6.5m (sh9.5b) for the two attack helicopters which have been grounded at the Entebbe airbase. Justice and defence ministry sources said last night Sebutinde will be aided by Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Maureen Owor as lead counsel and Sarah Timarwa, secretary. Sebutinde led the probe into graft in the Police Force. Owor was the lead counsel. Kiryabwire and Timarwa were part of the probe into the collapse of the Greenland, Cooperative and International Credit banks. The bank probe was headed by Justice James Ogoola. Their findings have not been officially made public. However, the Sebutinde report was leaked to the press recently, causing controversy. Attorney General Bart Katureebe and state minister for defence Steven Kavuma declined to comment on the helicopter probe yesterday. Kavuma said he would comment today. In a statement on Tuesday, Kavuma said, "In view of the continued controversy and speculation surrounding the procurement of the MI-24 helicopters for the army, government has decided to institute a judicial commission of inquiry into the said procurement and purchase transaction," Presidential aspirant Col Kiiza Besigye had accused President Museveni of personally awarding the helicopter deal to a local company. Besigye also said Museveni's brother, Maj Gen Salim Saleh, took a bribe of $800,000 over the deal. Besigye welcomed the inquiry saying, "That is what I have been asking for many years." "We shall give them full co-operation but I hope that the report will be made public so that the air about this saga is cleared." Kavuma had insisted that Museveni only approved the payment after a Besigye report. Besigye was the Chief of Logistics and Engineering. A statement issued by the defence ministry on Sunday said, "Col. Besigye made a report confirming that the helicopters were fully overhauled and ready for shipment. The helicopters were delivered but subsequently found to be unoverhauled." Kavuma said Museveni relied on a report made by Besigye that the choppers were overhauled. "It is this act which led to the loss of money intended for the overhauled helicopters. This is the act for which the President holds Col. Besigye responsible. Without that act the helicopters would never have come," Kavuma said. Ends.

Sebutinde to probe junk helicopters

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