By Gerald Tenywa
THE case in which an illegal consignment of 250 endangered tortoises was seized in Nairobi has taken a new twist, with the Uganda Wildlife Authority claiming that two of the suspects implicated in the scam have not been prosecuted.
Moses Mapesa, the executive director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), named the suspects as Yekoyadah Nuwagaba, a presidential adviser and Smith Ewa Maku, a Kampala businessman.
Mapesa said the suspects were implicated after a cache of tortoises to Thailand was intercepted in August at the kenyatta International airport in Nairobi by Interpol.
He said the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) preferred criminal charges on Charles Kasamba, who was arrested with the tortoises, but did not advise the authority on whether to undertake further investigations on Nuwagaba and Maku. He said Maku was the original holder of the CITES permit meant for export of 250 leopard tortoises, who sold the permit after it expired, to Kasamba.
CITES regulates trade in wildlife and restricts trade in endangered species like leopard tortoises.
Mapesa added that there is enough evidence to pin Maku because his permit was recovered from kasamba, who had made an agreement with Maku to share the proceeds from the botched deal.
Nuwagaba, who is authorised to breed the tortoises, was the supplier, but the animals were exported without clearance from CITES.
This is contained in a letter dated November 30 sent by Mapesa to the DPP. He also complained that the evidence against the suspects had been omitted.
â€œWe have done investigations but the Director of Public Prosecutions is still holding the file three months after we asked him to review the case.â€™â€™
Maku has been locked in long-running battles with UWA over illicit dealings in wild animals, which have not been resolved.
But he said he was cleared of all charges after investigations by the DPP.