Entebbe, Uganda | URN | The Entebbe Chief Magistrates Court has fined a Canadian National, Carino Lee Andrew, Shillings 500,000 (approx. $137) for presenting a forged PCR COVID-19 test certificate at Entebbe International Airport.
The trial Magistrate Juliet Nakitende fined Lee when he pleaded guilty to charges of uttering false documents.
Lee’s trouble started after he was intercepted by Aviation police on March 24, at Entebbe International Airport enroute to Kenya. He presented a forged PCR COVID-19 test certificate purportedly issued by the Central Public Health Laboratories on March 24, the same day he took the test.
During the hearing, State Attorney Jean Nareeba said that the medical officer, David Kayanja who verified Lee’s certificate at the airport noted that there was no corresponding record for the certificate.
Kayanja alerted Aviation police because the QR code on Lee’s certificate number TX 20213020 was non-existent in the results system. He was thereafter charged with uttering false documents. Lee pleaded guilty to the charges when he appeared before Entebbe Chief Magistrate Juliet Nakitende on Tuesday 29, March 2021 morning.
In her submission, Nareeba expressed concern about ”the trend of falsifying results in this era of COVID-19 despite the fact that Lee is a first time offender who has not wasted court’s time.”
She asked the court to hand the convict an appropriate sentence. Lee’s lawyer, Sophie Namirembe asked the court for a lenient sentence because her client is a first time offender and that being a foreigner, he is a victim of circumstances.
In her ruling, Nakitende noted that since Lee has not wasted court’s time and resources, looks remorseful and a first time offender, I therefore sentence him to a fine of Shillings 500,000 or jail term for 14 months.
His lawyer Namirembe later told this publication that his client told police that he was approached by two men at Victoria Mall in Entebbe municipality claiming that they were laboratory technicians and operate a clinic that tests for COVID-19.
Lee had spent two weeks in Uganda and was heading to Kenya when he was arrested. All departing passengers are expected to present a negative PCR COVID-19 test certificate issued within 120 hours before their departure flight. Incoming passengers must present a negative PCR COVID-19 test certificate issued within 72 hours before their flight to Uganda.
However, over 40 travellers have shown up at the airport with forged COVID-19 test certificates since last October. In October, 36 travellers were fined Shillings 300,000 each for forging COVID-19 test certificates at Entebbe Chief Magistrate’s Court. They got the fake certificates from the Central Public Health Laboratories and Makerere University College of Health Sciences.
Police officers nabbed some of the laboratory technicians behind the certificate scam.