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Uganda charges “mastermind” behind tourist kidnapping



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Ugandan police said Thursday they had charged the alleged “mastermind” behind the kidnapping of an American tourist and her safari guide, who were later released in exchange for a ransom.

Byaruhanga Onesmus, a former convict, was charged in a court in the country’s west with three counts of aggravated robbery and two of kidnap with intent to claim a ransom, Ugandan police spokesman Fred Enanga said in a statement.

Police said Onesmus, 43, trailed the US tourist and provided the kidnappers with information about her movements in the lead up to the abduction on April 2, when the tourist and her guide were grabbed by gunmen while on an evening game drive.

He also allegedly played a key role negotiating the payment of a ransom, which secured the release of the pair six days after they were abducted.

They were released unharmed from Queen Elizabeth National Park, which borders the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Enanga said the accused was also wanted on separate kidding, robbery and murder offences, and other charges would be laid.

Tourism is a key industry for Uganda, home to rare mountain gorillas and other wildlife, the massive Lake Victoria and snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains.

President Yoweri Museveni vowed that his country was safe for tourists in the wake of the abduction and said that security would be strengthened at national parks.

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