Days after his arrest on suspicion of stealing sensitive recordings of Gen Kale Kayihura’s conversations with NRM youths, the suspect, a senior police detective, has started talking.
According to sources familiar with the interrogations, Ronald Poteli confessed during Monday’s interrogation that he had been promised Shs 25m to steal the recordings. Poteli, attached to the political crimes desk at the Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Directorate (CIID), said the promise was made by someone allegedly working for Jacqueline Mbabazi, wife of Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi.
“I was just tempted by money like many of us. I did not know what they wanted to use them [tapes] for. If I had known, I would not have done such a thing,” Poteli is said to have told his interrogators.
Our sources said Poteli, claimed he made copies of the recordings on compact discs (CDs). He then delivered them to the interested person, who works at the NRM headquarters at Kyadondo. Poteli was arrested on the evening of April 6 and detained at the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Kireka over some 87 missing tapes. Gen Kale Kayihura, the police chief, says the tapes were stolen from police custody and leaked to Jacqueline.
So far, two audio recordings have leaked publicly and they are related to Mbabazi’s alleged political mobilization activities to bolster his undeclared presidential bid. In both recordings, Kayihura features prominently. In one of the recordings, Kayihura is in a conversation with NRM youths from Buganda he sounds deeply concerned that Mbabazi’s political activities might destroy NRM and possibly endanger the country.
A well-placed security source said it was normal police practice to record conversations with witnesses for purposes of investigations or future reference. Our source says the recordings are stored in different police departmentsdesks, depending on the nature of information on them.
For instance, if the conversation is about media or a media personnel, it will be kept in the public relations department. If it is political, then the political crimes desk, will handle it. Poteli reportedly acknowledged that his action was in breach of police conduct but asked for leniency, saying “he was very sorry for what he had done.”
Asked whether he got the trade-off money, he said he got “some of the money” without revealing the exact amount. He said they [his contact allegedly working for Ms Mbabazi] were yet to deliver the balance. Poteli is said to have looked tense during the earlier part of the interrogation but he eased up later.
At times, he just shook his head in acknowledgement or in denial of certain information put to him. He also drank lots of water. His interrogators asked him where he got the money to buy two cars (Toyota Premio) that are awaiting clearance at a bond in Kampala which are in his names. He said he bought the cars using money from his private businesses, which he did not divulge.
The investigators also asked him why he did not consult his superiors when he was approached for the recordings, to which Poteli had no answer. The source said the Monday interrogation lasted more than two hours.
The source, who has known Poteli for some time, said he was shocked he could be compromised because his record was relatively clean.
“But we are not drawing any conclusions as yet because we are going to interview more people,” our source said, confirming that other police officers would be interrogated.
In the wake of the leakages, the source said, the police has tightened its security systems, particularly access to key offices. Visitors to these offices will be thoroughly checked. Those without proper identification documents will not be allowed access.
Secondly, those intending to see Kayihura, including some police officers, may not be allowed to carry their phones or even some watches which have recording devices, the source said.
Kayihura told journalists at the launch of the annual crime report on Monday that the matter of the stolen tapes was being handled and would be forwarded to court when the investigations are finished.
Poteli was due for more interrogation yesterday.
Source : The Observer