Ugandans face death in China By Grace Matsiko, Kampala THE CITIZEN FIVE more Ugandans are facing death in China after they were arrested for allegedly possessing narcotic drugs. Uganda's ambassador to China, Mr Charles Wagidoso, said the suspects are being detained at various Chinese security jails where foreigners who have committed serious crimes are held. The arrest of the five brings to 15, the number of Ugandans facing the death sentence for drug trafficking in China. They were arrested between September last year and last month. The identities of those arrested recently could not be established as Uganda's embassy in Beijing was not open by press time. "The number of our people involved in drug trafficking has risen to 15 after five more were arrested recently. Drug trafficking in China is a serious offence whose ultimate punishment is death," ambassador Wagidoso said. Of the 15, two have already been sentenced to death but their execution has been suspended for two years subject to diplomatic negotiations. The envoy said most of the suspects were found to be carrying between 800 grammes to a kilogramme of heroine, which carries a death sentence on conviction. Under Chinese anti-drug trafficking laws, anyone found guilty of transporting more than 50 grammes of heroine is sentenced to death. The sentence can, however, be reduced to life imprisonment if one is caught with less than 50 grammes of the drugs. "Because of diplomatic intervention through our embassy, two of the Ugandans arrested have been given the lighter sentence of life imprisonment instead of death and the rest are still on trial in different cities in China," Mr Wagidoso said. Of the six women arrested, one of them was found to be pregnant and HIV positive following a mandatory test that foreigners involved in serious crimes in China are subjected to. The ambassador said because of this, the Chinese authorities decided to deport her this month upon conviction to serve the sentence in a Ugandan jail. "It would appear these are young boys and girls are being used by drug traffickers abroad. Looking at their passports, they are first time travellers and from humble families," he said. According to Mr Wagidoso, the suspects were contracted by West African drug dealers who are residents in Kampala, especially in Muyenga, Bunga and Kabalagala. He said there were no known cases in China involving Ugandans until last year. "My appeal to Ugandans, especially the youth, is to desist from being used as conduits. Once they are caught, they will suffer death," Mr Wagidoso said. "A similar appeal is to the government to intensify intelligence at ports of departure," he added. He said one of the Ugandans arrested flew from Entebbe Airport to Thailand from where he swallowed the pellets and continued to China. Another came from Entebbe to Sri Lanka where he picked heroine en-route to China.� A source familiar with operations of drug lords said Ugandans are being targeted by drug cartels because Uganda is not yet known to be notorious in trafficking. On recruitment, they undergo test runs, where they swallow the pellets, move around Kampala and pass them after few hours.