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Tuesday, February 23, 1999 Published at 19:01 GMT


Amin's wife escapes jail for cockroach café

The former wife of one-time Ugandan ruler Idi Amin has escaped a jail sentence after pleading guilty to allowing cockroaches and mice to overrun her London café.

Sarah Kyolaba Amin, 44, was given a two-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay £1,000 towards prosecution costs by a judge at Snaresbrook Crown Court in east London.

She met the notorious former ruler of Uganda in the 1970s while serving as a go-go dancer with his army's Revolutionary Suicide Mechanised Regiment Band.

Sumptuous wedding

In 1975 she became his fifth wife. Their wedding banquet cost £2m and Mr Amin's best man was the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, then treated as an international pariah.

Her husband - who later dubbed himself Field Marshal, King of Scotland and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa - cut the wedding cake with a sword.

His eccentric and bizarre rule lasted for eight years from 1971, during which up to 300,000 Ugandans were murdered and thousands of Ugandan Asians were expelled.

Fled Uganda 20 years ago

Mrs Amin bore him a daughter, Hasafa - he is said to have fathered 43 children in all - and fled with him to Libya when he was toppled by Tanzanian troops in 1979.

Mrs Amin, once known as Suicide Sarah, left her husband in 1982 and sought political asylum in Germany, where she spent time as a lingerie model.

While he ended up in Jeddah, where he still lives under the protection of the Saudi Arabian Government, shelived in London, running a café serving African dishes such as goat stew and cow hoof in gravy.

Mrs Amin, from Tottenham, north London, admitted seven counts under the 1990 Food Safety Act when she appeared in court on Tuesday.

One of the charges Mrs Amin admitted was failing to ensure adequate procedures were in place to control mice and cockroaches at the restaurant.

Shocking conditions

She denied three similar charges and faces up to two years in jail.

An environmental health officer from the London borough of Newham visited the Mrs Amin's S restaurant in Forest Gate on 5 November 1997.

He was so shocked by what he found that he immediately closed it down.

There was no soap, towels, hot water or ventilation, and a "grey furry thing" found in one corner was later identified as a decomposing mouse.

It was allowed to reopen in December 1997 when the council issued a certificate confirming it "no longer posed an imminent risk to public health".

Judge Deva Pillay told the smartly dressed divorcee people who committed "serial breaches" of the food safety laws usually go straight to prison.

'Dereliction of hygiene'

He said she was responsible for "long standing dereliction of hygiene and cleanliness" and had failed to obtain training in basic food hygiene when she took over the business in 1997.

The judge said he had decided against a custodial sentence because she had no previous convictions, had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and had taken steps to improve her awareness of her responsibilities to the customer.

He said she had "drastically" improved conditions at the café.

But Judge Pillay warned her: "If you come before me again on a breach of food safety regulations within the next two years, as night follows day, you will go to prison."

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