Uganda police decline to hand over Uhuru stolen car

Aggrey Odhiambo AchiengThe saga over theft of Kenyan presidential escort car took a strange twist yesterday after it emerged that Ugandan authorities had declined to release it. Security sources said the Ugandans had held the car on grounds that it had become the subject of wider investigation by Interpol and Europol.

It had earlier emerged that the car was recovered in Tororo, a short distance across the Malaba border, and it had been expected it would be towed back to Kenya. But, it is understood, Ugandan anti-terrorism police drove all the way from Kampala—about 200 kilometres away—to take charge of investigations involving the car.

“Police in Tororo called in the anti-terrorism unit since the car was found abandoned by the roadside and it was not clear what motive was behind it,” said a source from the Ugandan newspaper New Vision, quoting a senior police officer.

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The anti-terrorism police inspected the car then towed it to Kampala, even as it emerged that Kenyan authorities had already requested that it be handed over across the border. The BMW 7-Series bullet proof car, registration number GK A374E, was stolen from its driver on Wednesday last week, in Ruai, Nairobi under mysterious circumstances.

While both Kenyan and Ugandan authorities had earlier on Wednesday morning announced that the vehicle had finally been found in Tororo, the People Daily learnt Uganda had insisted that Interpol and Europol be given a chance to exhaust investigations over what was suspected to be a cross-border motor-vehicle theft syndicate.

The source, New Vision, said police in Kampala had confided that Kenyan authorities wanted the case treated with utmost secrecy. The car was yesterday being held at the anti-terrorism unit headquarters in central Kampala.

A source close to the investigations said the position had threatened to escalate into a row as Kenyan and Ugandan authorities sought common ground on the issue, which has now attracted the interest of global sleuths. Some officers from the Kenyan Flying Squad Unit were said to have already travelled to Kampala.

The discovery followed the arrest of two suspects in the carjacking and theft of the vehicle. Bungoma county Criminal Investigation Department (CID) boss Peter Mabeya and Head of the Flying Squad Nyale Munga disclosed yesterday that the suspects were arrested at a hotel in Bungoma town on Monday night by a team of investigators from Nairobi.

The two were then understood to have led police to Tororo, where the vehicle was being hidden. Asan Kasingye, the director of Interpol in Uganda, confirmed the recovery of the car. “It is true we have recovered it in Uganda,” Kasingye told Ugandan media.

Mabeya said the vehicle will be held until all the necessary logistics had been completed. “We have left the whole issue to the two governments to carry out normal procedures before it can be handed over,” said Mabeya.

“We are in contact with Ugandan authorities who are now taking the car to Kampala for a probe,” he added in his office. He said the two arrested suspects will be taken back to Nairobi for further interrogation.

“We are not aware if the two suspects had sold the vehicle or they were looking for a market,” said Mabeya. Last week, State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu said the stolen car wasn’t part of the fleet of vehicles currently used by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s escort.

The car, police had said, was stolen from David Muchiri by armed gangsters, as he headed to his residence in Nairobi’s Ruai area. Muchiri told police armed men stopped him at gunpoint before they took off with the car.

On Monday, a man was arraigned in a Nakuru court and charged with the theft of the car. The suspect, Aggrey Odhiambo Achieng, however, denied the charge and was remanded at the Nakuru Central Police Station after the prosecution asked for more time to complete investigations.

Odhiambo had also denied two other counts of illegal possession of a home-made gun and handling two stolen vehicles. Principal magistrate James Mwaniki granted the prosecution’s plea to have Odhiambo remanded after hearing that the suspect was willing to provide more information on the theft of the car.

-mediamaxnetwork.co.ke

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