The family of Mr Patrick Kasaija Agaba, aka Pato, who for more than a year has been said to be the principal suspect in the kidnap and gruesome killing of Susan Magara in February 2018, has accused the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) of not implementing an agreement reached between both parties before Pato agreed to be returned from South Africa.
Magara, then 28, was kidnapped on February 7, 2018, as she drove to her home in Lungujja, Kampala. Her kidnappers kept her for weeks, using her phone to call her family, in the end extracting a ransom of Shs700m, her family said at her funeral. Her body was discovered on the Entebbe Expressway near Kampala on February 27, 2018.
Pato, who is said to have been known to the deceased, was accused of being the mastermind of the crime and collecting and leaving with the ransom money. A manhunt for him was mounted shortly after the killing.
Pato was arrested in South Africa, but his extradition took months, until he was finally returned to Uganda mid-May. In his absence, Pato had been charged with the kidnap and murder of Magara, together with eight others.
The police said they were working with Interpol and other agencies in South Africa to ensure that Pato was extradited.
Crime scene. Police cordon off the scene where Suzan Magara’s body was recovered dumped near Entebbe Expressway on February 27, 2018. FILE PHOTO
In February, Mr Evans Ochieng, one of Pato’s lawyers, said his client had nothing to fear about returning home to clear his name. Mr Ochieng said: “He already expressed his intention to return home. South Africa is now working on documentation to have him home. Once he reaches Uganda, he will hand himself over to police.”
Saturday Monitor has seen a trail of correspondences between the DPP and Pato’s lawyers that indicates that contrary to the belief that Pato was extradited to face trial over the kidnap and murder of Magara, he agreed to be returned to the country to “clear his name”.
Pato maintains that he was not in the country during the period Magara was kidnapped and killed, something he claims is supported by his travel history.
Documents seen by Saturday Monitor also indicate that Pato’s lawyers and the authorities consented to his extradition from South Africa on agreement that he would make a statement explaining his whereabouts in the period Magara was kidnapped and killed.
A letter dated February 26, signed by Pato’s lawyer Robert Mackay to the DPP, indicate that Pato withdrew his objection to being extradited so that he could return to Uganda to defend himself on the case registered at Old Kampala Police Station under file CRB 141/2018.
According to the letter, Pato’s lawyer in Johannesburg, Mr Michelle Ives, who was representing him, was asked to consent to surrendering back to Uganda for trial.
“My Lord, we did advise our client to surrender, on the understanding that the South African government, through their National Prosecuting Authority, would swiftly prepare the paperwork for his extradition with the concerned minister,” the lawyer wrote to the responsible judge.
The letter adds: “This has not been done to date and our client is inclined in believing that his continued detention in South Africa is infringing on his right to a fair trial back home, as he has to prepare his defence in time with his co-accused persons.”
On return to Uganda on May 15, Pato’s lawyers say he hoped that the process to determine his whereabouts during the period Magara was kidnapped and killed would be swift and “prove his innocence.”
According to the letter, Pato surrendered on the understanding that ‘once in the country, he would explain his whereabouts on the dates, especially February 20 and 27 of 2018, when the crime was committed. This is contained in a letter dated June 10.
The letter continues: “On or about the May 20, our client recorded his statement proving beyond any shadow of doubt using his passport and the travel history from the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control- Ministry of Internal Affairs – that on those alleged dates, he was in South Africa. Our client is inclined to believe that his continued detention has been perpetuated by people with bad minds who concocted a case against him when he was absolutely innocent.”
Families members this newspaper spoke to say they were shocked by the actions of the authorities, who have since his extradition, not appeared in court over the killing of Magara, but was on June 12 charged with an offence of kidnap with intent to procure a ransom and he was remanded to Luzira prison pending further investigations. This charge relates to another person and not Magara.
DPP Mike Chibita
Last week, Pato appeared before the Buganda Road Magistrates Court by way of video conferencing for mentioning of his case and he was further remanded until July 12.
According to the charge sheet, on May 1, 2013, at Muyenga ‘A’ Kironde Road in Kampala District, Pato and others still at large kidnapped Alupo Joan Cora with intent to procure a ransom or benefit from her liberation from the danger of being murdered.
According to a minute dated November 11, 2014, police detectives agreed to ‘put away the case file pending new developments.’
Another document on file shows that on March 2018, Makindye Chief Magistrate’s Court issued a warrant of arrest against Pato basing on State submission that the accused person had been traced in South Africa.
“…the accused has been traced in South Africa where he is on the run. We pray for a warrant of arrest to be able to start off the extradition process,” reads a court record.
But on March 23, 2018, the DPP wrote to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting the ministry to transmit the request through diplomatic channels.
According to the letter signed by senior assistant DPP Jane Okuo Kajuga, the government made a formal request to the Republic of South Africa for extradition of Pato.
When Contacted, DPP Mike Chibita said in a telephone interview that Pato is being charged on two case files.
On the issue of a closed case file, Mr Chibita said: “Of course, we do things strategically because the suspect was not around, we decided to close the file. But you know that crimes do not rot.”
Asked when Pato would be presented to court over Magara’s murder, Mr Chibita declined to comment, citing subjudice rule.
Pato’s lawyer, Mr Mackay, also declined to comment on the matter.
“I do not handle nor discuss clients’ matters in public. That is indiscipline,” he said before hanging up on this reporter.
Police statement on Pato extradition
This is to inform the public that the Government of Uganda, through Interpol, coordinated the successful return of Patrick Kashaija, alias Patrick Agaba, alias “Pato”, a wanted Ugandan fugitive, from South Africa, who was arrested on March 7, 2018, by members of Interpol South Africa, Crime Intelligence and the National Investigation Unit at his residential address in Midrand, South Africa.
He was handed over to a special team of detectives from Uganda, who transported him to Uganda on May 15, and took him into police custody for further interrogation.
As you are all aware, the suspect was highly suspected to be the person behind the voice recorded, during the phone negotiations, over the $1m ransom, and the advance payment of $200,000, that was effected on February 24, 2018, which formed the basis of the IGP’s request then.
Police spokesperson, Mr Fred Enanga. FILE PHOTO
In addition, his conduct towards the end of the ordeal was very suspicious, when on February 13, 2018, he applied for a Visa to South Africa, with a flight plan for February 16, 2018.
Instead, he left Entebbe International Airport on February 17, 2018, for Harare [Zimbabwe], through Nairobi [Kenya], where he, however, stopped and falsely declared to the immigration officials, how he was returning to Uganda from Accra, Ghana.
He returned to Uganda on the same day and thereafter, travelled by road, through Botswana to South Africa on February 24, 2018, coincidentally the same date the advance ransom payment was delivered to the perpetrators.
The suspect possessed two passports; Number B0661869 that was valid until March 3, 2018, in the names of Patrick Agaba, and Number B1177225 that is valid until January 19, 2025 in the names of Patrick Kasaija.
We would like to thank the Directorate of Interpol and International Relations, which initiated an international fugitive investigation with support from the offices of the Inspector General of Police and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions. They further coordinated closely with the Prosecutors Office and Law Enforcement Personnel in South Africa, who helped in the location and arrest of the suspect.
And on the March 25, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services signed an extradition order for the return of the suspect to Uganda from South Africa.
We do highly appreciate the maximum cooperation between Uganda and South Africa based on full compliance to the International Legal obligations and the existing historical bilateral agreements. This demonstrates, both our resolve to hold persons inevitably liable for crimes committed within or outside their countries.
The suspect is still presumed innocent until proven beyond reasonable doubt before the courts of law. In the meantime, his case file is being processed for the attention of the DPP, who upon perusal, will determine whether to jointly charge him with the eight other accused persons already committed to the High Court or not.