Ugandan plane was on gold-buying mission

OWN CORRESPONDENT, Kampala | Sunday 11.00pm.

AN aircraft which crashed into Uganda’s Ruwenzori Mountains late last month was heading for a gold-buying mission in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the state-owned New Vision newspaper reported on Sunday.

Earlier reports said the plane had crashed in the DRC, and had been shot down by Allied Democratic Forces rebels hostile to the Ugandan government. Claims by the ADF to have shot down the plane have been dismissed as opportunistic.

Family members of at least three of the passengers, who were travelling with a senior Ugandan army officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jet Mwebaze, said they were on a private mission to buy gold. A sister to one of the passengers said the group departed from Entebbe airport on September 25 to fly to Beni en route to Kisangani.

Five of the passengers were rescued in the mountains last week, after the group, which included Israeli Zeev Shif and Kampala Asian businessman Arif Mulfi, split into two.
The pilot died in the crash, while Lieutenant Colonel Mwebaze, the brother of Uganda’s chief-of-staff, Brigadier James Kazini, and three others are still missing.

The paper also reported that the flight plan at Entebbe airport was tampered with. The original destination was scrubbed out and replaced with “Kasese”, Uganda’s western regional capital. Various reports say the plane either landed at Kasese, or was seen near Kasese but did not land. A statement from the Civil Aviation Authority said that the plane, a kenyan-registered Islander 10-seater, landed in Kasese and was flying back to the nearby town of Fort Portal, when it disappeared.

It is reported to have crashed some 60km north of Kasese, in the thinly inhabited Ruwenzoris. Searches for the remaining missing passengers have been hapered by bad weather.

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