Kampala — Police are set to exhume the remains of Catholic priest Peter Bwayo after a court in Mbale ordered fresh autopsy to ascertain his cause of death amid claims of "treasure" in the grave.
Dr Moses Byaruhanga, the director of police medical services, said the deputy Director of Criminal Investigations Directorate, Mr Joseph Obwona, has informed him about the court order but "I have not seen it myself".
The order was issued by Mbale Grade One magistrate, Mr Daniel Epobu, following an application by the deceased's elder brother, Mr Clement Bwayo, and police detective Fredrick Sam Were on Monday.
"It is thereby ordered that the remains of Rev Peter Kasooli Bwayo be exhumed and a postmortem conducted to ascertain the cause of the death. That a DNA test be conducted to ascertain the identity of the remains," the magistrate ordered.
"I am happy that the court order has finally been issued and hope that the police will act as soon as possible. We asked to exhume [the body] so that a postmortem and DNA are done because we are not sure that the person we buried was indeed Fr Peter. About the other things that will be found, police will determine the fate," he said.
Police are yet to decide when to travel to the eastern Bulambuli town to exhume the body.
The priest died in the United States, but was buried at his ancestral home in Uganda's eastern Bulambuli District on July 23, 2014 in what the family says was a result of an order from the Church not to bury him on its premises.
Relatives have briefed investigators of their suspicion of foul play in the priest's sudden demise in St Petersburg, Florida, some four years ago.
He had lived in the US, first as a student and later missionary since 1994, and had been granted American citizenship by the time he died.
A July 3, 2014 death certificate in the family's possession that was reportedly issued by the Bureau of Vital Statistics in the State of Florida, a copy of which this newspaper has seen, indicates Fr Bwayo succumbed to anoxic brain Injury and sepsis.
His family remained dissatisfied and their misgivings were many: the cause and actual date of death, the issuance of a new Ugandan passport to the deceased on the day he died, a failed attempt to exclude relatives from receiving the body on arrival at Entebbe International Airport, controversy over burial place and, later, the suspension of a priest who celebrated mass during burial.
In yesterday's interview, Mr Clement Bwayo said they hope a fresh postmortem and any findings in the casket would help resolve the mystery surrounding their brother's death and close a painful chapter for them as a family.
Fr Bwayo belonged to the Order of Apostles of Jesus founded in Uganda's Moroto District by Bishop Sixtus Mazzoldi and Rev John Marengoni on August 22, 1968.
He, however, had become an American citizen by the time he suddenly died in June 2014. It was reported that at the time, the priest succumbed to anoxic brain injury, a damage triggered by lack of oxygen, according to World Health Organisation.
Suspicion. The family, however, became suspicious and notified police after men identifying themselves as emissaries of the Order of Apostles of Jesus's regional headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, approached them last month, seeking to dig up the grave and retrieved unspecified "treasures".
They offered the family an equivalent Shs10m as a sweetener to authorise opening of the grave, according to one of the priest's brothers, Mr Clement Bwayo. He is the complainant in the current case.