Eritrean tycoon Mihretab Sium Temelso’s long walk to freedom is finally over! This follows the closure of all case files resulting from charges that he has been battling from 2016.
Sium got the peace that has eluded him since 2015 following the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s closure of files for cases that had been fabricated against him.
The cases were plotted against Sium by two Eritrean consulate officers. These used a one Hermon Hebtemicael, a known agent of the Eritrean government but the holder of a Canadian passport who sources say bags US$38,000 annually to execute assignments aimed at bringing down Eritreans deemed as political threats.
Through Hermon and sixteen other members of the Eritrean community, Sium was accused of several cases ranging from threatening violence, kidnap, abetting defilement, human trafficking among others.
He was consequently subjected to a protracted, gruelling legal process in Uganda, which saw the Sium Express (U) Limited tycoon investigated by police and courts of law since 2016. The investigations and court appearances followed Sium’s insistence that he was innocent and as such the said charges were simply politically motivated due to his sound businesses and popularity within the Eritrean community among which sources say he is a famous philanthropist.
But like they say, the truth can only be delayed but never stopped. The truth in Sium’s case seems to have finally manifested following the dropping of all charges against him.
Documents seen by this newspaper show that on July 26, 2020, Barbra Masinde under instruction by the new DPP wrote to the Director of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) at Kibuli instructing him to close all case files involving Sium’s charges.
This was after the DPP upon re-perusal of all cases against Sium found them lacking in terms of evidence. Others were dropped for want of prosecution, among other reasons.
In the DPP’s letter addressed vide references KJS-CO-086-2016, NKW-CO-0985-2016 and HQS-CO-0189-2016 among others, the DPP wrote: “Reference is made to your forwarding minutes in respect of each file, all dated May 7, 2018, and your earlier letter dated April 23, 2018. Reference is also made to our earlier letter dated August 3, 2017, directing you to conduct further inquiries in respect of each case file,” Masinde wrote.
She added: “We have re-perused the files and found evidence insufficient to support the charges against the suspect/accused.”
In the same letter, the DPP highlights eleven cases that had been fabricated against Sium and which have now been quashed for lack of evidence. The cases include:
CID HQTRS GEF E-169/2016 (UGANDA VS MIHRETAB SIUM TEMELSO). The DPP states that in this case, Sium (suspect) was charged with procuring defilement and householder permitting defilement. That the charges were sanctioned at Nakawa court office. However, the DPP adds that the matter was never registered in court and it is on these grounds that the DPP closed this file on November 6, 2019.
The second case is CID HQTRS GEF 391/2016 (UGANDA VS MIHRETAB SIUM TEMELSO). The DPP states that in this case, Sium was charged with threatening violence and he pleaded not guilty to the charge on July 22, 2016.
He then applied for bail was it was granted to him on July 29, 2016. The DPP further states that following investigations, the matter was also dismissed for want of prosecution by the Nakawa Grade I magistrate on December 22, 2017. the DPP consequently closed the file for this case on November 6, 2019.
The other case is CID HQTRS 223/2016 (UGANDA VS MIHRETAB SIUM TEMELSO). The DPP states that in this particular case, the suspect was again charged with threatening violence. However, the case’s investigating officer (I.O) stated that the complainants in this matter reported another matter against Sium on similar facts vide Jinja Road CRB 391/2016. The IO thus advised that the file be closed, which the DPP did on November 6, 2019.
The other case is KATWE SD 77/23/11/2015 (UGANDA VS MIHRETAB SIUM TEMELSO). The DPP states that in this case, Sium’s wife, communicating via the internet, accused him of threatening violence against her. However, after thorough investigations, the Police, in a letter dated April 6, 2016, advised court to close the file as the complainant was not willing to provide information to help in prosecuting the suspect; after which she cut communication with the police,. Consequently, the DPP closed the said filed on November 6, 2019.
The last case, according to the DPP is CID HQTRS GEF 206/2016 (UGANDA VS MIHRETAB SIUM TEMELSO). The DPP states that this was a sexual abuse complaint filed against Sium. The police however advised court to close the file on account that after filing the case, the alleged victim remained anonymous and as such the police couldn’t get any details about her. The DPP thus closed the file on November 6, 2019.
Last Hurdle Jumped
It should be noted that after the DPP closing the above files, there was an attempt to keep Sium bedeviled by charges. As such, he was notified about two charges that he still had to face vide references CRB 830/2016, CIID HQTRS GEF 228/2016 and CIID HQTRS 66/2016. In these cases, Sium was allegedly accused of trafficking a one Yorsalem Teweldebrhan Debessai from Eritrea to Uganda.
It was further claimed that after Yorsalem reached Uganda, Sium aided her defilement by his son, Henok Sium Mihretab.
However, a scrutiny of the files showed that these charges were an exact duplication of those that were earlier filed under reference CID HQTRS GEF E-169/2016 (UGANDA VS MIHRETAB SIUM TEMELSO) and were quashed and the case file closed on November 6, 2019.
Consequently, on August 5, 2020, Sium’s lawyers of Alaka $ Company Advocates petitioned the DPP expressing concern that while these charges against their client had “no basis”, the DPP had left them looming on his head; much to his detriment. “…our client is stuck with the looming charges with no basis since 2016 and has raised the complaint with your office. The situation has affected his business transactions and life. We therefore humbly seek your indulgence to have the said files closed and guidance from your office. We thank you,” in part, reads the lawyers’ letter to the Deputy DPP.
Indeed, following the lawyers’ petition, the DPP also quashed these charges and closed the file.
Why Defilement Charge Flopped
Meanwhile, information seen by this newspaper shows that the human trafficking and abetting of defilement cases in respect to Yorsalem against Sium (as well as defilement case against his son Henok) flopped after investigators got the alleged victim’s travel history and circumstances surrounding her travel to Uganda from Eritrea. More evidence manifested in her medical report from Nakasero Hospital where she delivered her child, Joy Henok.
These evidence proved that Yorsalem was not underage and was actually Henok’s official wife and thus was never defiled as alleged.
Investigations revealed that Yorsalem actually flew to Uganda with the full blessings of her family and that in fact, her mother escorted her to Uganda. Yorsalem’s travel history shows that she arrived at Entebbe International Airport at 4 am on April 01, 2013, aboard Egypt Air Flight No; 837. She was in the company of her mother, Mihret Gebremichael Teklemariam and so it was not possible that Sium trafficked her or both of them to Uganda. The same document shows that she then flew out of the country on December 17, 2015, via Qatar Airways, Flight 537.
It has further emerged that at the time of jetting into Uganda, Yorsalem was actually 21 years of age and had gone through a customary marriage with Sium’s son Henok in Eritrea. Following the marriage, she was supposed to relocate to Uganda to stay with her husband, Henok. However, it was soon realized that she could not travel out of Eritrea as she had not done the mandatory national service that is required of every Eritrean citizen upon attaining 18 years of age.
It was against this background that, with the consent of her family, her age was artificially lowered to 16. This was done to circumvent the national service requirement law and it also explains why (having been classified as a minor) she was escorted to Uganda by her mother.
It is however said that Sium was later simply a victim of this ploy since Yorsalem and her husband were staying at his home in Lubowa in Kajjansi division, Wakiso district, by virtue of him being Henok’s benefactor.
This explains why he was accused of procuring defilement and his son accused of defilement.
These charges would be later sanctioned by former DPP Mike Chibita and investigated by Amos Ngolobe. This was after Essayas Ghebray M., the head of Consular Affairs at the Eritrean Embassy in Uganda, petitioned then Interpol Uganda director Asan Kasingye to investigate Sium on account of the various charges.
How Sium Charges Began
Sium’s charges began after Essayas set out Eritrean agent Hebtemicael Hermon, a Canadian passport holder, to launch the destruction campaign against him. This was after Sium petitioned against Ghebray, accusing him of breaching diplomatic code by standing surety for Hermon.
Hermon had been jailed after Sium accused him trespassing into his home where he met his then daughter-in-law Salem Yorsalem Teweldebrhan in August 2015. It later emerged that Hermon bribed Yorsalem with US$15,000 and coached her to claim that Sium had trafficked her to Uganda where his son Henok defiled her. Hermon would later elope with Yorsalem to Turkey. Since that time a bitter war erupted between Sium and the Eritrean consulate, resulting in more charges such as threatening violence against Sium.
Sium would later flee Uganda following attempts on his life. The first of such attempts came after unknown assailants attacked him and sprayed his car, CE 100B with bullets as he drove along the Kampala-Gulu Highway in August 2017.
Whereas the car rolled several times, Sium together with his driver survived albeit with gross injuries. Sium reported the case at police but was frustrated after cops advised him to find a way of ensuring safety for himself and his family comprising his children and their mother, Maza Muhaba Alemu, an Ethiopian national.
Shortly thereafter, Sium lost his brother Girmay Sium Temelso who was poisoned in a plot that targeted Mihretab. Girmay died after he mistakenly ate his brother’s food.
According to an April 30, 2018 postmortem report from the Makerere University Department of Pathology, Girmay, 32, died on April 28, 2018, of poisoning.
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The report showed that while Girmay’s body showed no physical outer injuries, an internal examination showed that his peritoneal cavity contained 300rnls of turbid fluid, while the chest cavity contained 500mls of straw-coloured fluid.
Hit by his brother’s death, Mihretab fled Uganda for fear of his life and that of his immediate family.