By URN/The Observer
Buganda Road Court on Monday remanded 14 Chinese nationals on charges of illegal possession of wildlife species and illegal presence in Uganda.
The accused appeared before magistrate, Miriam Oyo Okello in two separate batches. The first group comprised of You Jing Dao, Huang Jian, Mao Xue Ming, Mao Ya Jan, Li Ren Zhe, Li Jia Zhao and Lin Yi Ming. Okello read for the accused the charges with the help of an interpreter, Bruce Tumuhimbise.
Court heard that on March 18, 2020 while at Kireka Kamuli Lubowa Zone in Kira municipality, the accused were found in illegal possession of 10 pieces of dried elephant penises valued at Shs 17.1 billion, six tortoises valued at Shs 22.8 million and half kilogram of pangolin scales valued at Shs 5.7 million.
Court also heard that the accused persons were found keeping tortoises at their residence as pets without permission from the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
The second batch comprising Liao Xiao Feng, Chen Xiao Kang, Chen Jun, Yu Wen Jie, Lin Yi Ming, Lin Shao Sheng and Li Jia Zhao was charged with unlawful presence in Uganda.
The accused were arrested on March 17, 2020, after the expiration of their entry passes on March 3, 2020. The state also contends that the accused persons had started involving themselves in private business by forming food processing and scrap dealing firms without valid work permits, certificate of permanent residence or special passes.
The suspects pleaded not guilty to the charges and were further remanded to Kitalya Government prison until May 21 as investigations continue. The suspects are part of 37 Chinese nationals who were remanded on March 27 on charges of illegal possession of hundreds of sim cards among others.
However, state prosecutors, Annet Tuheisomwe and Ivan Kyazze had to amend the charge sheet to introduce new charges against the 14 individuals.