Kampala – Shocking details have emerged on how a group of Eritreans plotted false charges against tycoon Mihretab Sium Temeleso.
The charges have since been trashed and case files closed after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) found them unsustainable in court.
In a letter addressed by the DPP to the director CIID, Kibuli vide references KJS-CO-086-2016, NKW-CO-0985-2016 and HQS-CO-0189-2016 among others, it was specified that the charges could particularly not be sustained for “lack of evidence” and “want of prosecution”. “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,” the letter reads in part.
“We have re-perused the files and found evidence insufficient to support the charges against the suspect/accused,” the DPP added.
The news of Sium’s freedom sparked celebrations within the Eritrean community, with many of his well-wishers calling for the arrest and prosecution of all those mafia who framed him. “We thank God that finally the truth is out. This is what we were telling our fellow brothers and sisters but they couldn’t understand. We have always known that Sium is a man who welcomes and helps everyone; so he did not deserve what those people have put him through,” said a member who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal.
It should be remembered that at the height of the Sium witchhunt in 2017, over 800 Eritrean Community members came up to support him on grounds that they were sure he was being witchhunted for his generosity that made him so popular to the extent of threatening the Eritrean politicians in Uganda and south Sudan where he had business interests and also back home in Eritrea. Consequently, about 500 members of the Eritrean Community in South Sudan and over 300 of their counterparts living in Uganda, both male and female signed affidavits clearing him of any wrongdoing. The affidavits came just days after police and courts of law in Uganda dismissed the initial cases that were leveled against the businessman.
“We wish to confirm that as a member of the Eritrean community in South Sudan was not informed and neither did I take part with the 16 people who had a hidden meeting inside the Eritrean embassy in South Sudan and to contribute money to have Mr. Mihretab Sium Temelso arrested and he has never threatened me nor sexually abused me and I have also never seen him do the same to any other person. I therefore, have no complaint or legal matter against Mr. Mihretab Sium Temelso, the managing director of Sium Express Ltd. What I have stated here is the truth and I have said so with a free mind and also without being coerced,” in part, read versions of the affidavits.
How cases came up
It has emerged that the cases against Sium had to fail because they were simply framed in a covert scheme that was aimed at sabotaging his businesses and causing his deportation to Eritrea where he would be politically persecuted. Allegedly, this scheming was orchestrated by Essayas Ghebrhay, the head of Consular Affairs at the Eritrean Consulate in Uganda and his counterpart, Ambassador John of South Sudan.
Intelligence reports show that the first of such meetings was chaired by Essayas on February 5, 2016 at Garden City Shopping Mall in Kampala, and was attended by 19 people whom he selectively invited.
A source that was part of the meeting revealed that during the deliberations, Essayas assured the 19 anti-Sium conspirators nothing would happen to them because they had the full backing of the CIID and Interpol top bosses in Uganda, while in Eritrea they would be protected by Yemane Gihebereabe, the Eritrean presidential advisor on political affairs ,
After the Garden City meeting, another anti-Sium meeting was held at the Eritrean Embassy in South Sudan. The meeting chaired by Ambassador
John and was attended by 16 people.
In the meetings, it was agreed that reports pinning Sium on a litany of cases be drafted and their reports forwarded back home in Eritrea.
It is said that both meetings co-opted other Eritreans to make 42 people who then fundraised Shs50m (about US$23,000) that was to be used to start the anti-Sium fight. These people include: Getachew Bekele, Ghebrengus Ezra, Nasir Said, Mussie Afewerki Tekle, Abraham Yemaneab Kifleyohans, Kibreab Simon Ogbamicael, Abrehalai Saleh M. Taher, Solomon Hebtemariam Gile, Daniel Woldu Ogbamicael, Mogos Araia Gebrekidan, Merhawi Woldemicael Foto, Ogbamicael Yemesgen Teferi, Efrem Habtegiorgish Kibrom, Hermon Gebremicael Embaye, Mesfin Beyene Tesfamariam, Solomon Tsegai Tesfamariam, Selam Tikabo Mobae, Sirak Haile Gebregergis, Abeba Gebregziabher Guangul, Alem Abrha Belai, Yordanos Goitom Tekle, Andemariam Haile Tewolde, Nebiat Beyene Hebteyonas, Yodit Futsum Sium, Woldai Habtemicael, W. Mariam, Mulgieta Rufai Teklehaimanot, Naod Eyob Gebrewold, Futsimberhan Sium, and Samson Tadese Sengal. Others are: Haimanot Woldai Habtemicael, Simon Abraha kidane, Bereket Futsum Sium, Merhawi Alazar Tedla, Bereket Araia Gebrewold, Daniel Alem Mogos, Filmon Berhane Fessehaie, Adonai Abraham Kibrom, Filmon Mengistab Sereke, Hanibal Tesfai Yohannes, Michael Tekle Kahsai, Bereket Kiflom Nuguse and Winta Abraha.
It has however emerged that Sium learnt of a looming plot to tarnish him and thus petitioned the Inspector General of Police seeking protection for him and his family members.
Indeed Sium’s fears came true when, on July 22, 2016, the two meetings began bearing fruits when Gebre Ezra, Musie Afework Tekle and Hermon Habtemicael reported Sium to Jinja Road Police station and CIDHQTRS on charges of threatening violence. And without Sium being summoned to Police, his case file was forwarded to Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s Court with both Bereket Kiflom and other Eritreans as witnesses in the case. Later on December 6, 2016, Sium was arrested and remanded to Luzira Prison over the case. Three days later however (on December 9), Nakawa Court Grade I Magistrate Margaret Aanyu dismissed the case and released Sium for want of prosecution.
Earlier however, Yorsalem had also come up with statements alleging that Sium’s son Henok Mihretab had defiled her after Sium trafficked her as a minor from Eritrea to Uganda. She further alleged that he was trafficking other girls into Uganda from Eritrea and Rwanda. However, this case was dismissed last year (November 6, 2019) after it emerged that Yorsalem had lied to police after being coached by Hermon who gave her US$15000 and later aided her travel out of Uganda to Turkey. Hermon was able to easily fly to Turkey by virtue of holding a Canadian passport. Sources also say that he is an agent for the Eritrean government and for this deal and similar others he bags up to US$38,000 annually.
Later, when Eritrean tycoon Daniel Woldu Ogbamicael was kidnapped from Oasis Mall in Kampala on October 7, 2016, the anti-Sium forces seized the opportunity and claimed Sium was involved (because Woldu was part of the people who contributed the US$23000 to fight Sium). He was thus arrested on December 2, 2016 and detained at Kampala Central Police Station on charges of kidnap.
However, on December 5, 2016 — following analysis of the victim and possible suspects’ phone records and printouts, Sium was cleared of any foul play in Woldu’s kidnap and/or death.
In his police report to the IGP in that regard, the Kampala Metropolitan Police CID Commander said: “I have carefully perused this case file. Evidence so far on record is insufficient to connect any of the present suspects to the kidnap of the missing person… Regarding the other suspect, Mihretab Sium Temelso, still nothing so far connects him to the offence of kidnap. By the time when the missing person was last seen, Sium Mihretab was out of Uganda.” Police investigations later revealed that Woldu was kidnapped and murdered in a Shs7.5bn bank fraud orchestrated by a mafia gang led by UPDF’s Capt. Hakim Mangeni Musana and his wife Lucy Akol, an official of Stanbic Bank.
BATTLE GOES GLOBAL
When the cases lodged against Sium flopped in Uganda, the plotters took the battle globally by involving the Interpol. They thus contacted Bineyam Kokobe Araia, an IT specialist based in Brussels, Belgium who then uploaded a Facebook post with earlier false testimonies that Yorsalem had given to Ugandan Police.
Kokobe’s Facebook post was then picked and shared by each of the 42 members in the Essayas camp on their social media pages. This then sparked off the endless media reports that depicted Sium as a rapist, human trafficker and kidnapper. Later, this report was sent to the Interpol headquarters in France by Kokobe via his email; [email protected]
After perusal, the French sent back correspondences directing the Interpol in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, Eritrea, Turkey, Brussels (where Mihretab has business interests) to investigate the Eritrean tycoon.
At this juncture, the Interpol message and the Facebook allegations were put to the attention to Ambassador Mohammed S. Ahmed at the Eritrean Embassy in Uganda.
Consequently, the ambassador (who Eritrean embassy insiders say was away in the USA when the whole plot was brewing), wrote to Assan Kasingye, the director Interpol Uganda, requesting him to investigate Sium.
Shockingly, all these cases and testimonies that began in 2015 have since been found to be trumped up, albeit about five years later. This explains why the DPP and court have dismissed them and closed the case files while Police has since cleared Sium of any wrongdoing as directed by Court. It however remains to be seen whether Sium and his well-wishers will now get justice!