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37 Chinese accused of trading illegally in Uganda protest UGX 500m fine

Some of the relatives of the Chinese talking to the State Attorney Ivan Kyazze after court. Courtesy photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Lawyers representing the 37 Chinese facing charges of unlawful possession of wildlife and trading illegally in Uganda have said that the 500 million shillings fine imposed on them is high.

This was disclosed by their lawyers led by Jamilu Mujurizi who was on Wednesday briefing Buganda Road Magistrates Court on the progress of the plea bargaining.

The Director of Public Prosecution demanded for 500 million shillings to drop the charges against the suspects. Last month, the Chinese opted to enter plea bargaining with the State after failure to get sureties.

The State Attorney Ivan Kyazze told the Grade One Magistrate Marion Mangeni that they have failed to agree with the suspects about the amount to be paid. This forced one of the relatives of the accused to break into tears saying that the money demanded by the state was too much.

Mangeni adjourned the case to July 13 to enable the parties to finalize with the plea bargaining.

The prosecution alleges that on March 19 2020, the Chinese were found transacting the business of phone and computer scrap dealings without trading licenses. The offences were reportedly committed in Kireka, Kira Municipality in Wakiso district.

Court heard that on the same day, the group was also found disassembling several mobile phones and computers for trading purposes without a trading license.

It is also alleged when police detectives searched the building they were operating from, the Chinese were found with suspected stolen property. This property included computer motherboards, phones and electricity meters.

They were also reportedly found in illegal possession of protected wildlife species including six tortoises and pangolin shells.

The Chinese were also found in possession of 1,895 Airtel and 223 MTN sim cards registered in Ugandan names which they were reportedly used for “We Chat”, an online platform for messaging and financial transactions. These other offences were committed between October 2019 and March 2020.



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