Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to investigate circumstances surrounding the death of Rev Fr Peter Kasooli Bwayo which occurred in Tampa, Florida in the US four years ago.
Ms Kadaga in a letter dated July 12, and addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Sam Kutesa, said the deceased’s next of kin, Mr Mathew Bwayo, claimed that his brother’s remains were buried “secretly” in Uganda without any report being given to the family about the cause of death.
The family in Munamutye Village, Bulambuli District also complained to the Speaker that they have not received any information regarding the gratuity and benefits of the deceased from the Department of Veterans Affairs, James A Haley Veterans Hospital, Florida.
Mr Mathew Bwayo, the deceased’s next of kin, said they decided to petition the Speaker after Internal Affairs ministry and police were reluctant to cooperate on the “criminal issues” surrounding the death of the priest and issuance of a Ugandan passport on the same day he reportedly died.
“After perusing the complaint, I am of the opinion that the matter can be best handled by your ministry and Ministry of Internal Affairs. I therefore, forward the matter to you to handle and most especially inquire into the deceased’s outstanding entitlements and gratuity from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital,” the Speaker wrote.
The letter, a copy of which Saturday Monitor has seen, is also copied in to Internal Affairs minister, Gen Jeje Odong.
“By copy of this letter, the minister of Internal Affairs is required to interest the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) in investigations into the death of Fr Peter Kasooli Bwayo,” she wrote.
The Speaker also urged the Director of Criminal Intelligence and Investigation to cooperate with the family of the deceased regarding the results of the autopsy carried out on March 21, after the exhumation of the body on the request by the family.
Efforts to reach Mr Kutesa were futile. His personal assistant who only identified himself as Brian, said he would not be available until next week.
Mr Alfred Nam, the Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said he is yet to get notice of the letter to Mr Kutesa, adding: “I cannot comment about that letter because it has not yet come to my notice. I have only read about the death of that priest in your paper (Daily Monitor).”
Body in mortuary
Following the police pathologists exhumation of the deceased’s remains on March 21, they are yet to be reburied. The family insists they must first know the cause of death.
The body that was found intact (embalmed) at the time of the autopsy nearly four years after burial in July 2014, still lies in the Mbale Municipal mortuary.
“We check on the body every day and it is still recognisable. There is no way we can rebury until the postmortem report is out and the American government needs to pronounce itself about their citizen whose body was smuggled into Uganda,” said Mr Mathew Bwayo.
For four months and 20 days (from exhumation day to date), the family claims they have been paying Shs50,000 daily to cater for prepaid electricity bills to run the refrigerator keeping the body.
Rev Fr Bwayo died in the United States, but was buried at his ancestral home in Uganda’s eastern Bulambuli District on July 23, 2014. This was after the Archbishop of Tororo, Emmanuel Obbo allegedly ordered that his remains should not buried on church premises.
Relatives have been pointing at foul play in the priest’s sudden demise in St. Petersburg, Florida. He had lived in the US, first as a student and later missionary since 1994, and had been granted American citizenship by the time he died. Fr Bwayo belonged to the Order of Apostles of Jesus founded in Uganda’s Moroto District by Bishop Sixtus Mazzoldi and Rev John Marengoni on August 22, 1968.
Early this year, the deceased’s older brother Clement Bwayo told this newspaper in an interview that some individuals who identified themselves as emissaries from the Apostles of Jesus Order’s general headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, staked Shs10m for the family to authorise them to disentomb the body.
The messengers wanted access to the grave in order to retrieve valuables in the coffin, the priest’s sibling told this newspaper, prompting him to report the matter to detectives at the Criminal Investigations Directorate headquarters in Kampala.
A July 3, 2014 death certificate in the family’s possession that was reportedly issued by the Bureau of Vital Statistics in the State of Florida, a copy of which this newspaper has seen, indicates Fr Bwayo succumbed to anoxic brain injury and sepsis.