Marino’s arrest came a day after his Ugandan wife was detained at Bugolobi Police Station together with Panda – Pier Village LC I Chairperson, Joseph Tomusange, who was caught with 2.5Kgs of worked Ivory pieces following a trap laid by officers from the Natural Resources Conservation Network (NRCN) working closely with detectives from the Uganda Police Force who presented themselves as buyers of the ivory.
Marino at Bugolobi Police station
Diego Marino Enrico, a retired Italian diplomat is in trouble after
being found in possession of over 5 Kilograms of Ivory. A team of detectives
from Bugolobi Police Station in Kampala picked up Marino on Tuesday following a
search at his residence in Panda– Pier Village in
Nakawa Division that yielded the
ivory and transferred him to Jinja Road Police Station.
Marino’s arrest came a day after his Ugandan wife was detained at Bugolobi
Police Station together with Panda – Pier Village LC I
Chairperson, Joseph Tomusange, who was caught with 2.5Kgs of worked Ivory
pieces following a trap laid by officers from the Natural Resources
Conservation Network (NRCN) working closely with detectives from Uganda
Police Force who presented themselves as buyers of the ivory.
interrogations, Tomusange led the detectives and NRCN officials to Marino’s home where a
search was conducted leading to the recovery of 3.75Kgs of worked Ivory pieces.
Over the weekend, an officer from NCRN received a tip-off indicating that there
was someone in Luzira with some Kilogrammes of Ivory for sale. The Officer
immediately informed Police about the development.
On Sunday, the
officers of the Natural Resources Conservation Network–Uganda, with Police met
their informer, who showed them the ivory in a hidden sack. On confirming that
the items in the sack were genuine Ivory pieces, the detectives immediately
introduced themselves to Tomusange and arrested him. They demanded that he
takes them to the source of the Ivory.
He led the detectives to Marino’s
residence where a stand-off ensued between the detectives and his caretakers
who denied them access.
released a guard dog in the ensuing struggle, which bit and injured one of the
detectives on the left arm, before it was eventually subdued. In his statement at
Bugolobi Police Station, Marino did not deny that he was the owner of the Ivory
pieces but said that he bought them several years ago from an unidentified hawker.
“I don’t sell
Ivory. I have been here for over 10 years. I bought these things from a hawker
here in Kampala”, Marino told detectives at Bugolobi Police station. James
Mutaire, the Officer in Charge Investigations at Bugolobi Police station
confirmed the suspect’s arrest and transfer to Jinja Road Police Station. He said
they had preferred the charges of Unlawful Possession of Specimen of Protected
Wildlife contrary to Section 36 (1), and Section 71(1)(B) of Uganda
Wildlife Act and Unlawful Transfer of Specimen of Protected Species contrary to
Section 36(1) and Section 71 (1)(B) of the Uganda Wildlife Act”.
On Monday, a
team of Experts from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) joined the officers from
the Natural Resource Conservation Network (NRCN) to help with the
identification and prosecution of the suspects. In her April 13th,
2021 six-page technical report, Sergeant Major Harriet Twinamatsiko noted that
she had confirmed that the 5.5Kgs of specimens handed to her by the police were
actually of protected wildlife.
examined the features of the specimens as above and relating them with the
known features of an Elephant and Hippopotamus, it was 99.9% highly probable
that the specimens were 56 cuts worked elephant Ivory pieces and one worked
hippopotamus incisor tooth” reads the report. Adding that “At least two
elephants died to obtain the specimens as described above considering the fact
that an elephant has a pair of tusks and there were two complete worked tusks
and several chopped ones. At least a hippopotamus died to obtain the one piece
of the hippopotamus incisor tooth.”
Bashir Hangi told URN that they welcome the efforts of sister agencies to stamp
wildlife traffickers. He said those trading in protected species need to be
locked up irrespective of their species because Ugandan laws are clear. African
Elephants are listed under Appendix 1 of the Convention of International Trade
in endangered species of wild flora and fauna (CITES) and described as
endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which
means that no trade is allowed in these species and their parts.
In her report,
Twinamatsiko says that in terms of economic and biodiversity value elephants
and hippopotamus are among the key drivers of Uganda’s Tourism potential
internationally. “They are listed
among the “Big Ten Safari Animals” which shape the decision of tourists to
choose their tourism destination, and are instrumental in tourism marketing
purposes. As one of the flagship animals in the tourism sector in the country, they
greatly market, stimulate and contribute to the number of tourists we receive
in the country. You will note that tourism tops Uganda’s foreign exchange
earnings, and for the financial year 2018/2019, tourism generated US dollars
1.6bn equivalent to UGX 6 trillion,” Twinamatsiko said.
It is unclear
when Marino and his group will appear before the court as officers at Jinja Road
police station remained tight-lipped on the matter. The Deputy Kampala
Metropolitan Police Spokesperson, Luke Owoyesigire, said he was yet to receive information
on Marino’s arrest. Police spokesperson, Fred Enanga didn’t respond to our
repeated calls to his known mobile phone number.