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Police arrest 8 Budo guards

By Vision Reporter

Added 17th April 2008 03:00 AM

Eight private security guards and a matron of Budo Junior have been arrested over the fire that burnt to death 20 girls on Monday night.
The Police suspect a case of criminal negligence since the guards were absent from duty when the fire devastated Nassolo dormitory at about 10:00pm.

Eight private security guards and a matron of Budo Junior have been arrested over the fire that burnt to death 20 girls on Monday night.
The Police suspect a case of criminal negligence since the guards were absent from duty when the fire devastated Nassolo dormitory at about 10:00pm.

By Steven Candia

Eight private security guards and a matron of Budo Junior have been arrested over the fire that burnt to death 20 girls on Monday night.
The Police suspect a case of criminal negligence since the guards were absent from duty when the fire devastated Nassolo dormitory at about 10:00pm.

The head of the Criminal Investigation Department, Okoth Ochola, said the guards were picked up on Wednesday evening “to help with investigations”.

“We want to establish criminal negligence on their part. They were employed to procure safety of those at the school so where were they?” he asked.

Reports said the guards were watching a Premier League soccer match in the neighbourhood when the suspected arsonists attacked the Primary Four girls. The arrest, Ochola said, was the first of many that are likely to follow as the Police step up their investigation in the cause of the fire that burnt the girls as they slept.

In an unscheduled visit to the school on Wednesday, President Yoweri Museveni criticised the administration for negligence and ordered an immediate inquiry. He urged Ugandans to be responsible.

The guards, Ochola said, were scheduled to be interrogated yesterday. Scores of other people have also been interrogated and they recorded statements.

He said this and the results of forensic tests would help the Police establish the cause of the fire.

As part of the investigation, the Police have placed the matron of the ill-fated house, Damalie Basirika, on a 24-hour guard at her bed in Mulago Hospital where she was rushed after she collapsed with shock.

“We want to prevent any likely harm coming her way and we are interested in interrogating her,” Ochola explained.

Late last night, Basirika was discharged but immediately arrested.

During Museveni’s visit, deputy headmaster Moses Sewalu said two bodies of unidentified adults were recovered from the scene.

Several other people, including MP Emmanuel Dombo and Suzan Nakawuki, told Parliament that the two bodies were recovered. The school managers also said the whereabouts of three girls were unknown.

However, the Police yesterday refuted reports of the adults. In a statement, the Police said anybody spreading such reports would be death with according to the law.

The officer who oversaw the retrieval of bodies and the doctors who carried out the postmortem, the Police argued, confirmed 19 bodies of female juveniles.

In a related development, President Yoweri Museveni has appealed to school authorities countrywide to priorities students’ safety while they are at school.

This was contained in the President’s condolence message following the death of 18 pupils of Budo Junior Boarding School, who perished in a fire that gutted their dormitory on Monday.

Museveni paid the school an impromptu two-hour visit on Wednesday and he talked to the school management, bereaved parents and children who survived the inferno.

“On my behalf, that of my family and the entire nation, I would like to express my sincere condolences upon this tragic and unimaginable loss,” read the message released by State House after the visit.
“Losing a child is one of life’s saddest experiences and words of comfort are difficult to find.

“As our hearts go out to the grieving families, we also empathise with those who were injured,” the statement added. “The school community, especially, the young ones is, no doubt, traumatised by this shocking experience. “The little ones who died in the inferno were not just the future of our nation, but were part of a strong fabric of our community, their school and families.

“The country has lost budding, innocent citizens.

It said: “I would like to assure the country that the Police is investigating the cause of the fire and everything shall be done to establish the circumstances of this tragedy. At this time of shock, disbelief and intense grief, I pray to the Almighty God to comfort and sustain you with His Grace. May God grant the souls of our dear departed children eternal rest,”the State House statement said.

Police arrest 8 Budo guards

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