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Taxi driver arrested in connection with murder of Ugandan journalist

The Ugandan police is holding a commuter taxi driver in connection with the dreadful murder of Vision Group journalist Pere Thomas a fortnight ago. Thomas was murdered on June 18, and his body was dumped in a trench in Masajja Kibira A zone, along Busaabala road.

The Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesman, Idi Ibin Ssenkumbi, told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) that the suspect was arrested from his home at Nateete – a surbub of Kampala – after they followed his car, "We arrested him [at] his home [in] Nateete after police followed a car with blood stains which had been brought for washing, just a day after the killing of the journalist. He could not explain the presence of blood stains on his car. We can't reveal his name until the investigations are over," Ssenkumbi said.

He explained that even though the driver denied that the blood stains belonged to a human being, the results from the obtained blood samples from the vehicle and submitted to the government laboratory for analysis proved that it belong to a human being.

It is however not clear whether the samples matched that of the departed reporter. Ssenkumbi added that they were following up other clues from the suspect's telephone contacts print-out.

Benon Emmanuel Ayebare, the officer in charge of the Crime Intelligence and Investigations Department (CIID) at Katwe (a suburb of Kampala), told HRNJ-Uganda that the details of the suspect could not be released at the moment as they could jeopardize the investigations. "It is too early to give full details of the investigations, but one person was arrested in connection with the murder," he said.

The police are also in custody of other exhibits which include an identity card and head cap that were recovered from the scene where the body was dumped.

"This is a major stride made by the police in investigating this murder case. Many journalists are living in constant fear for their lives, as two unknown men attempted to break into the house of a Uganda Radio Network crime reporter; he was saved by the police which fired bullets as they ran away. So, we call upon the police to beef up the safety of Ugandans, especially the journalists who are at a great danger for their lives over the journalistic work they do. We hope that the culprits will be brought to book.” said HRNJ-Uganda' National Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala.

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