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Woman Fined UGX 30 Million for Illegal Possession, Trafficking of Heroin

"In this case, the convict risked her health by stuffing over 90 pellets in her private parts. We are not sure if her system is still the same as before." Kitimbo added, "We pray that the law takes this as peculiar. Although she has saved the court's time, we pray for a deterrent sentence and the destruction of the drugs."
The heroin pellets allegedly found in Birungi's possession. Internet Photo
                                                                                  

The Entebbe Chief Magistrate's court has fined Carol Birungi, Uganda shillings 30 million for unlawful possession and trafficking of narcotics.

Last month, Birungi was found with 91 pellets concealed in her private parts destined for New Delhi-India.

The 26-year-old Birungi appeared before the Entebbe Chief Magistrate, Juliet Nakitende on Friday who fined her Shillings 10 million for unlawful possession of heroin and Shillings and 20 million for trafficking heroin via Entebbe International Airport or serve 30 years in jail on her own guilty plea.

Birungi initially denied the charges on February 14th, but when she appeared in court on Friday, she pleaded guilty on both counts.

The state claimed that Birungi was found in unlawful possession of 91 pellets of heroin, weighing 1,508,18 grams contrary to Sections 2 and 4 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act, 2016. 

The offence attracts a fine of not less than Shillings 10 million "or three times the market value of the drug, whichever is greater; or to imprisonment of not less than ten years but not exceeding twenty-five years or both."

On count two, Birungi was accused of trafficking in narcotic drugs contrary to Section 5 of the same act. This offense attracts a fine of not less than shillings 10 million "or three times the market value of the narcotic drug or psychotropic substance, whichever is greater, and in addition, to imprisonment for life."

Birungi, a resident of Mukono district, has now been convicted after pleading guilty to both charges.

On February 4th, 2022, she intended to travel to New Delhi, India aboard Air Arabia at Entebbe International Airport. She was however arrested around 11:30 am the same day at the baggage screening point inside the passenger terminal building at Entebbe International Airport.

Janet Kitimbo, the Resident State Attorney told the court that as Birungi moved or walked through the screening machine, it alarmed and she was asked to step aside. She was then taken to a private room for a search by Sylvia Tumusiime, a security officer. "During the search, Tumusiime found that Birungi had stuffed herself with narcotic drugs placed in her private part."

She noted that the Government Analytical Laboratory's report dated February 17, 2022, confirmed that the drugs recovered were indeed heroin, a prohibited drug in Uganda.

Birungi's passport, number A003536112, her smartphone, COVID-19 vaccination card, and yellow fever card were some of the other items that were also recovered.

Kitimbo urged the court to pass a deterrent sentence against Birungi because victims of narcotic drugs are usually exposed to diseases of the heart, liver, kidney due to overdose. "In this case, the convict risked her health by stuffing over 90 pellets in her private parts. We are not sure if her system is still the same as before." Kitimbo added, "We pray that the law takes this as peculiar. Although she has saved the court's time, we pray for a deterrent sentence and the destruction of the drugs."

Kitimbo said deterrent sentences will also reduce the rampant number of cases relating to narcotic drugs at Entebbe International Airport.

However, Birungi's lawyer Kelechi Azubika pleaded for a lenient sentence saying she is a first-time offender and has been convicted on her own plea of guilty thereby saving the court's time and resources because "it  is a common secret that courts have a backlog of cases.

He added that she has four siblings and is the sole breadwinner because she has aging parents, of which her father has been in a coma due to ill health. We, therefore, pray for a lenient sentence."

Chief Magistrate Nakitende thereafter fined Birungi a total of shillings 30 million. Failure to pay the fine, she will serve a jail term of 30 years. 

Last week, Nakitende passed a similar sentence against Sierra Leone national Sesay Abdul Karim for unlawful possession of 71 pellets of heroin, weighing 1,263,37 grams.

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