17 August 2017

Uganda: Egyptian Arrested Over Ivory Smuggling

Kampala — Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) officers have arrested the Egyptian Embassy administration attaché on allegations of smuggling banned trophies.

The officers recovered 12 pieces of ivory and other banned trophies at the official home of Mr Mohamed Hussein Elhusseiny in Kamwokya, a Kampala suburb on Tuesday.

Mr Vincent Sseruuma, the URA spokesman, confirmed the arrest and recovery of the items.

"It is true, but I have no details right now," Mr Sseruuma said on Wednesday.

According to Section 200 D (II) of the East African Community Customs Management Act 2004, it is illegal to acquire prohibited goods and the offence attracts a jail sentence of not longer than five years or a penalty of 50 per cent of dutiable value of the goods or both.

Uganda can't prosecute Mr Elhusseiny because he is covered by diplomatic immunity. Diplomatic immunity is a legal entitlement that protects diplomats from prosecution in host countries. Uganda can only expel the diplomat.

Mr Elhusseiny was released by URA revenue enforcement officers after they searched his home and found documents that indicated he was a diplomat.

Mr Ahmed Taniky, the press attaché for the Egyptian Embassy, confirmed that Mr Elhusseiny is their staff but they had not been officially informed about the case either by the Foreign Affairs ministry or URA.

"He is our staff. We, as the embassy, aren't aware of any of his issues. We aren't anywhere connected to what he may have done," Mr Taniky said.

Daily Monitor was told that URA received intelligence information that Mr Elhusseiny was trading in banned trophies. The team raided the diplomat's home, arrested him and recovered 12 pieces of ivory.

They sent another team at his home that carried out a search and recovered four animal horns and two pieces of animal skulls.

The diplomat is said to have told the URA enforcement officers that he bought the items from a person he only identified as Peter at Shs36m.

The enforcement officers are now hunting Peter who allegedly sold the banned trophies to the diplomat.

This isn't the first time people covered by diplomatic immunity have been found with banned trophies.

In 2014, URA officers arrested United Nations officers who were found with banned trophies in their luggage at Entebbe International Airport. The two UN staff and Cambodian citizens were operating in Central Africa Republic.

They were handed over to the UN commanders for punishment.

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