Ugandan Police: Source for Newsnight Child Sacrifice Story told “Pack of Lies”

Ugandan Police investigating Newsnight journalist’s “professional record”

From the Uganda New Vision:

THE Police have dismissed claims by Angello Pollino, a Catholic Evangelist in northern Uganda, that he sacrificed over 70 people.

Pollino 60, a resident of Adoki-Imeldi village in Apac district, who claimed that he sacrificed people, including his own son, was broadcast on British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) last month.

“The information Pollino gave to BBC about his involvement in child sacrifice was ‘a pack of lies’ which has tarnished the image of the country,” Moses Binoga, the head of the anti-human sacrifice and trafficking task force, said yesterday.

I blogged on the January Newsnight report – and raised some concerns about it – here. A sceptical piece also appeared in the London Review of Books blog, by anthropologist Adam Kuper, and the BBC responded to criticisms in the comments section.

The Newsnight piece was an exposé of a supposed upsurge of killings by witchdoctors in Uganda to acquire human body-parts; Pollino (in other reports named as “Polino Angela”) was featured as ex witch-doctor who had converted to Christianity. Why had he not been arrested before now? Uganda’s Minister for Ethics,  James Nsaba Buturo, told the BBC it was because

To punish retrospectively would cause a problem… if we can persuade Ugandans to change, that is much better than going back into the past.

The programme also featured journalist Tim Whewall visiting a shrine and being shown a liver which he told us may or may not have been human; but we’ll never know for sure because Pollino persuaded the witch-doctor there to change his ways and to burn everything. This seemed to me rather alarming as the shrine ought to have been regarded as a potential crime scene – unless the whole thing was overhyped nonsense.

According to the New Vision, Pollino remains in custody while “further investigations” take place, and the police are “investigating Whewel’s professional record and the purpose of his visit to Uganda.”