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36 fined UGX 300,000 for forging COVID-19 test certificates at the airport

Suspects at Aviation police station, Entebbe Airport. Courtesy photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Thirty-six air travelers have appeared before three different magistrate’s courts in Entebbe for forging PCR COVID-19 test certificates. The suspects appeared before the Entebbe Chief Magistrate Juliet Nakitende, Phionah Birungi and Naume Sikhoyi following their arrest by Aviation police between October 18th and 21st at Entebbe airport for showing up with forged COVID-19 test certificates.

The suspects are Claire Nalugo Kayanja, her sister Helen Kayanja, Anita Nankya, Viola Nakayenga, Duncan Luyima, Teddy Nakaggwa, Angella Nabakooza, Madinah Nakakawa, Aidah Nakafeero, Mazafaru Kawuma, Florence Nassozi and Esther Namugenyi. The others are Nagam Venkata,  Tesfay Habiteselase Welderas and Immad Eddin Taamin.

The suspects were intercepted at Entebbe International Airport en route to United Arab Emirates, India and the United Kingdom among other destinations. They were charged with forgery and uttering forged documents. The suspects pleaded guilty to the charges. As a result, the magistrates fined the accused Shillings 200,000 for forgery or 13 month’s imprisonment.

They also fined them Shillings 100,000 for uttering forged documents or 6 month’s imprisonment. The suspects got the fake COVID-19 test certificates from the Central Public Health Laboratories and Makerere University College of Health Sciences.

For instance, Angella Nabakooza apparently took the test on October 20th, 2020 at Makerere University College of Health Sciences and the results were released the next day. Duncan Luyima’s certificate indicated that he took the test at Central Public Health Laboratories at Naguru Police Health Centre IV on October 18th, 2020 while Tesfay Habiteselase Welderas purportedly took the test from Ministry of Health offices in Kampala on October 16th.

However, during the hearing, the state noted that the dates on the certificates were edited to meet the validity period and the QR codes didn’t exist in the results system. Court released the suspects since none of them tested positive for COVID-19 after being subjected to fresh tests while in detention.

Police is investigating the issue to find out those behind the issuance of the forged certificates. Two laboratory technicians have since been arrested to assist with police investigations and are currently in the custody of Aviation police station at Entebbe Airport.

All departing passengers are expected to present a negative PCR COVID-19 test certificate issued within 120 hours before their departure flight. Incoming passengers must present a negative PCR COVID-19 test certificate issued within 72 hours before their flight to Uganda.

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