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Friday, March 5, 1999 Published at 08:50 GMT


Parents' joy as Uganda survivor returns

The tourists were deep in the forest when kidnapped

The parents of one of the British survivors of the Uganda jungle massacre have spoken of their joy and relief at having their son back home.

Gary Tappenden, 28, was greeted by his father when he arrived at Gatwick Airport early on Friday morning. The family were reunited an hour later at their home in Bromley, south London.

Pearl Tappenden said: "It is a feeling of total relief. Just to feel my arms around him and know he was here."

"He is very pleased to be home but he is obviously suffering a lot," she added.

Mrs Tappenden also said they felt a great deal of sadness about the death of Gary's travelling companion, Martin Friend, from Orpington, Kent, who was one of the eight tourists slaughtered by the Rwandan rebels.

[ image:  ]
Gary was being comforted by his girlfriend, Karen Collie, 31, and his brother, Christopher, 25, who cut short a trip to Australia to return home.

Gary's father, Robert, said he believed his son would be in touch with Martin's parents and some of the other survivors.

"No matter how much he can talk to us, they are the ones he shared the experience with," he said.

Gary Tappenden was part of a group on a gorilla-watching trip in the Bwindi forest.

He had travelled to Uganda with football team-mate Martin Friend, who was one of the four murdered Britons.

British police in Kampala

Also on Friday, a team of three Scotland Yard detectives arrived in Kampala to assist in the hunt for the killers.

The BBC's Cathy Jenkins: "The Scotland Yard team are to provide 'technical assistance'"
The team, made up of a superintendent, inspector and sergeant from the Organised Crime Group have been sent "to assist and reinforce" the local investigation, according to the Foreign Office.

They will work with the Ugandan police and security forces as well as a team from the FBI, sent by Washington.

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni had instructed his officers and officials to give the British police "full cooperation".

Grieving families

At Gatwick airport, bereaved relatives spoke of their grief.

David and Laura Roberts, the parents of victim Steven Roberts, 27, from Edinburgh, said: "Even at the end we know that Steven would not be concerned for his own safety but for the safety of the people around him.

"This sums up the nature of the loving son who has needlessly been taken from us."

Roger Cotton, father of Joanne Cotton, from Essex, who died while working for trip organisers Acacia Expeditions, said: "Our abiding memory of her is one of living life to the full, and thoroughly enjoying her profession."

Mark Lindgren, 23, from Hertfordshire, also died in the massacre.

A second survivor, Mark Avis, who holds dual British and New Zealand nationality, arrived at Gatwick Airport early on Thursday morning. His New Zealander wife Rhonda, was among those killed.

A third Briton, Fiona Morley, from Kent, who also works for Acacia Expeditions, is believed to have returned to her home in Zimbabwe.

[ image: Mark Avis with his wife Rhonda, who was killed]
Mark Avis with his wife Rhonda, who was killed
The Ugandan army is also continuing to hunt the rebels who seized 14 tourists from a camp in the Bwindi forest on a cross-border raid from Rwanda and killed eight of them.

It was reported on Thursday that 15 of the 150-strong Interahamwe militia had been killed by the Rwandan army in an ambush. The militia consists of Hutus expelled from Rwanda following the 1994 genocide in which 500,000 of the rival Tutsi tribe were slaughtered.

Details are emerging of messages left on the bodies of the murdered hostages that claimed the killings had been carried out in revenge for UK and US backing for the Rwandan Government.

The notes, written on the back of photographs and holiday postcards, spoke of "Anglo-Saxon betrayal". The 14 hostages were reportedly singled out on the basis of nationality.

The Organization of African Unity has strongly condemned the tourists' slaughter, calling it "a wanton criminal act committed by a group of people who have no respect whatsoever for the sanctity of life and human dignity".

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04 Mar 99 | UK
Scotland Yard joins Uganda hunt

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