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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 November, 2003, 15:33 GMT
Helicopter case hits Uganda elite
Mi-24 attack helicopter (archive image from Macedonia, 2001)
Many Soviet Mi-24 Krokodil attack helicopters are still in service
The cabinet in Uganda has paved the way for senior figures including the president's brother to be tried for corruption and wasting state resources.

The officials are accused of wasting millions of dollars buying two unusable second-hand helicopters from Belarus.

Lieutenant General Salim Saleh, President Yoweri Museveni's brother, now faces a court martial in a miltary court.

The helicopters cost the state close to $13 million but were of such poor quality that they could not be used.

The Ugandan cabinet took the decision to prosecute following a Commission of Inquiry which implicated Lieutenant General Saleh in the purchase of the helicopters over five years ago.

The inquiry found that the president's brother was offered a bribe of $800,000 by a car dealer and rally driver who was keen to secure the contract to buy the helicopters.

It describes the acquisition as a disastrous spending spree.

Trial questions

The Commission of Inquiry had recommended that all those implicated in the deal be tried in a criminal court.

But some of them, including the president's brother, will instead face a court martial.

Currently more than half of Uganda's budget is funded by donors but President Museveni's desire to increase defence spending in order to fight a rebellion in the north has not gone down well with the donors.

If he accesses more funds, ironically, top of the president's shopping list are more helicopters.

Also facing a court martial is former presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye who is now living in exile.


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