Bery’s Burial; Ambassador Dr. Albrecht Conze Speaks to HICGI News Agency on Germany- Uganda Relations & Interview with Ingrid, Bernhard Glanser’s widow.

By E. K Benj

The remains of Bernhard Glaser, the German-born Belgian national who succumbed to cancer at Luzira prison last week was on Thursday 14th May spattered on Lake Victoria at Mwena landing site in Kalangala district where “Ssese Humanitarian Services, an organization he founded is based at a burial ceremony attended by a few friends of the deceased.

Watch short video of Bery’s Burial.

Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and the German Embassy in Kampala approved the cremation of Bernhard Glanser’s body on Tuesday at the Hindu crematorium located along the Lugogo bypass in Kampala. The same permission was granted by the German Embassy and the deceased’s relatives who are all not in Uganda.

At the time of his death, Glaser was battling accusations of molesting Ugandan girls at his children’s home in Kalangala.

Mr Albert Ntambiko the deceased friend was given all rights to receive and dispose of his body. The deceased’s wife as the next of kin gave him procuration for this purpose reads the consent letter from the German Embassy in Kampala.

One of the deceased’s friends Quraish Kwesigabo last week said that Glaser, 73, asked to be cremated in his will and ashes to be given to his wife and the daughter who currently live in Germany and the United States of America.

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Kwesigabo says that Bery had willed that some of his remains be splashed on Lake Victoria and by the time of his death, he had spent more than a year in jail battling 19 charges related to indecent assault, aggravated defilement and child trafficking.

HICGI News Agency has contacted Ingrid Dilen the widow of Bery whose mood is still low but has allowed Mr. David  Kasibante a close friend of the couple to speak to us.  It was not possible for Ingrid to return to Uganda most obviously because of the Corona Virus but has narrated what happened last year when Ingrid who works and lives most of the time in Belgium came in the country.

David says Ingrid jetted in Uganda to visit Bery but one day was arrested by the police who had come to arrest the husband in Mwena.  Bery was not there at the time so they decided to arrest Ingrid and hold her hostage.

They let it be known that she would remain in custody until Bery turns himself to the police.  Ingrid spent a couple of days in a police lockup together with some 25 to 30 women.   According to David this experience frightened her to an extent that she decided at that time to never return to Uganda. 

“I used to visit him in the Masaka Main Prison until I too got frightened that the police could arrest me; I packed my bags and immediately shifted to Kenya.  In view of how things progresses with Bery, I have no doubt that I made the right decision.” David says.

HICGI News Agency has interviewed H.E. Dr. Albrecht Conze Germany Ambassador to Uganda in a view of understanding the Embassy’s role in the life of Bery’s unfortunate moments and where it lives Uganda- Germany Diplomatic Relations.

H.E. Dr. Albrecht Conze Germany Ambassador to Uganda

E.K Benj: We regret the demise of Bernhard Glaser a Germany national who has passed on in Luzira Prison.

1. What could have been the contents of German Embassy letter to Uganda government that prompted the judiciary to take action regarding bail application for the deceased?

H.E. Dr. Albrecht Conze:  Mr. Glaser’s lawyers have tried time and again to convince the judiciary to schedule a bail hearing for him. The hearing finally took place last week. Mr Glaser died during the night following the court hearing. At that time more than a year had passed since his arrest. The Embassy has, during this long period, assisted the lawyers within the usual scope of consular assistance to German nationals who find themselves in custody abroad.

E.K Benj : 2. Did the Embassy contribute to the 30m UGX which had been secured for his bail consideration and was in any way contributing to legal fees and medical bills?

H.E. Dr. Albrecht Conze: The Embassy has neither footed any bills based on legal or medical assistance for Mr Glaser nor committed any funds for his bail.

E. K Benj 3. How is the condition of Bery’s wife?

H.E. Dr. Albrecht Conze: She lives in Belgium. We have never met her.

E.K Benj: 4– In 2015, Justice John Eudes Keitirima dismissed all cases against him due to lack of evidence. The case was reinstated in February 2019.

H.E. Dr. Albrecht Conze : Glaser had applied for bail to seek treatment for stage four cancer of the skin (Melanoma) and diabetes. His request was however rejected by Justice Winfred Nabisinde on grounds that his health condition is not so grave to withstand trial. She noted that Glaser had not been denied access to any medical care and that all medical reports don’t reveal that there is an unmanageable condition that can result to death.

E. K Benj: Do you think Bery was receiving free trial?

I have no reason to believe that Mr Glaser would not have had a fair trial if only the court had proceeded to holding it within reasonable time. However, during 400 days of detention, some of it spent in hospital, Mr Glaser never stood trial as the case was not heard by the court. As the saying goes, justice delayed may result in justice denied. I regret that we will never know whether or not Mr Glaser was guilty of the charges held against him.

E. K Benj: 5- Pedophilia (alternatively spelt paedophilia) is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children. … In popular usage, the word pedophilia is often applied to any sexual interest in children or the act of child sexual abuse.  Do u think if indeed it’s true as Prosecutor alleges, would Bery have had a psychiatric disorder and was he subjected to mental assessment before his trial?

H.E. Dr. Albrecht Conze: I have no comment on the substance of the allegations. It would have been for the court only to establish whether or not Mr Glaser was guilty of what he was accused of. Unfortunately, the judiciary was unable to come to a judgment during Mr Glaser’s lifetime.

E. K Benj: 6 How does Bery’s death impact relations between Uganda and Germany?

H.E. Dr. Albrecht Conze : Bilateral relations between our two countries are not affected by this case.

E.K Benj7- Are there arrangements to transport Bery’s body back home?

H.E. Dr. Albrecht Conze:  This matter is for his family to determine.

Uganda President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni with H.E. Dr. Albrecht Conze Germany Ambassador to Uganda

This interview was conducted slightly before the developments above however HICGI News Agency is unearthing mysteries and events around Bery’s life, Trial & Death.

Bery’s Trial

Bernhard Glanser Berry was carried to court on a stretcher and like Ambassador Dr. Conze says was granted a cash bail of UG Shs 30 million.  High court judge, Moses Kazibwe granted the suspect bail to enable him to travel to Belgium for cancer treatment. Bery was lifted to court on a stretcher by five prison warders.   

Bery brought in court on a stretcher. Photo by Observer News.

He had been on remand in Luzira Murchison Bay prison since April 2, 2019, but had never taken plea to the 19 charges levied against him due to his medical condition. He faced charges related to aggravated trafficking of children, aggravated defilement, indecent assault and operating an unlicenced and unapproved children’s home under “Ssese Humanitarian Services.”

Prosecution alleges that Bery committed the said crimes between 2007 and 2013 at Mwena landing site in Kalangala district when he abused the power and authority over minors that were under his care by sexually assaulting them. He reportedly used the minors for sex tourism as he taught them reflexology.

Part of the left side of his face was completely eaten by cancer. Glaser, who urinated via a catheter, was later laid on one of the courtroom tables as his lawyers including Caleb Alaka and Evans Ochieng pleaded with court for his release on bail. 

Court heard that on December 12, 2019, Dr Jackson Orem, the executive director Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) recommended that Glaser be transferred abroad for comprehensive treatment.

The lawyers presented a letter from Luzira prison authored by Samuel Akena on behalf of the commissioner general of prisons, saying they were concerned that the German national could end up dying in prison in prison. 

“The cancerous wound on the cheek has got worse and his health is dangerously deteriorating. Our concern is that the accused could die in prison and thus can cause a lot of embarrassment for the government and the country”, read the prisons letter dated April 22, 2020.

The lawyers presented Kalangala district LC V chairperson, Willy Lugolobi, Mwena landing site LC I chairperson, Joseph Lubega, Daudi Kabaali Ssempira, the general manager Ssese Radio and Edward Bujjimbi, a farmer as sureties for their client.

State prosecutor, Rachael Bikhole didn’t object to the bail application but asked court to order the suspect to deposit his passport with court after returning from treatment and Shs 50 million to ensure he returns to court for trial.  In his ruling, justice Kazibwe concurred with the defence team that Bery needed to go for treatment because his condition was visibly worse.

He directed him to deposit Shs 30 million in cash and never return to Kalangala. He bonded his four sureties at Shs 150 million not in cash. He ordered Bery, who stood trial in Masaka High court to report to the registrar of the same court on July 6 to see how they could prepare for his trial.

Bery’s Place Ssese Humanitarian Services

The organisation’s website describes Bery as a dreamer with a big heart. “He has a pragmatic, can-do attitude is committed and creates facts. Bery is able to achieve where others fail.”

He was married to Ingrid Dilen, with whom they were running the home, and served as the treasurer and administrator. The website adds that Ingrid and Berry not only considered the girls as under their responsibility but took them in as their children.

Samuel Walugembe one of the friends of Bery’s Place, Ssese Humanitarian Services describes it as home to over 30 vulnerable Girls victims of Sexual Abuse, defilement and neglect. He adds that ever since it started in 2008, Bery’s place has helped many girls get back to their feet, raise their hopes for a better future, Many have returned to school, have reasons to stay alive.  He appreciates the work Bery has been doing.

In Bery’s own words

In an interview earlier Bery has something to say; “When i came here I saw so many young people dying and I wondered what I could do to avoid this dying, unnecessarily dying and I talked to them and to their family members.

Most of them died because of their ignorance, lack of knowledge and they usually became infected by having there first partner without being informed the necessity to protect themselves with their partner so having gained this knowledge I said my next assignment was to do something about responsible sexual behavior and sexual information in general.  We put ourselves together and our resources and said let’s do what we can do. At that time NGO work was naive, I didn’t know I needed an NGO, I came here and rented a house; in 2008 I got Stella she was my no 1. At that time she had finished P7 and wanted to go to a secondary school.

People feared of what they could be because living with a mzungu, she feared so she came with a friend Anita and a better so I call her the second one, so that’s how it started 2008. It grew, and became known because the mzungu helps girls.”

Nabakoza Stella confirms on Anita and narrates “Her mom was sick and couldn’t take care of them. Most of the girls had just been brought by their parents. One day during her group sessions with Kalangala Mini TASO then Bery came, he introduced himself and what kind of work he does in Mweena.

Nabakoza Stella

One day our mother took us there and she asked him to help us, at first he took me and Monica after a short while she brought our niece Matha then they started to take care of us.”

Berry.

“Because of my professional experience in regards to post traumatic care, post traumatic sexual and violence care, parents brought me kids; police, probation officers brought me kids with such a history. I am a person, I cannot say no.” Bery narrates.

He adds that after being counseled and taken care of, the girls were taken to schools and with the help of global volunteers

“We provide care, and counseling to the girls who are abused and because of that I became touched like Maria came to Jesus, it just happened and I never planned- so we ended up taking care of 34 kids.”

Musiime Susan another kid said before, her life wasn’t good at home because she couldn’t get enough requirements. “No schools fees and when I was at home I had there was an organisation helping the children so what I decided was to join it.

While Nansubuga Janet another kid narrated; “As far as my life at my step mother’s home; it was not that good, for stance when we were going to school without paying school fees you miss lunch- but when i went to Bery’s place such things changed.”

Aisha Ndagire Deputy Heal Teacher – Sserwanga Lwanga Memorial School lauded Bery’s kids for being disciplined compared to others from different land sites who are not guided. Namatovu Janet Deputy Head Teacher – Lake Victoria Education Centre said Berry was working well.

Bery said that they gave necessary love and care, everything they needed for the girls to be able to succeed in life.

“We’re grooming these kids to be self-reliant, to be very independent, they can manage the house, finances, they do accounts and managing themselves.” Nobody believes this is possible added Bery.

Bery’s War with Island Men.

HICGI News Agency investigations into Bery’s Projects in Ssese stresses that the Germany Citizen had conflict with Ber’ys activities over their wives and daughters and this Bery mentions it in the during the interview.

 “When you talk about family planning, you have to talk about sexuality at large, that was my initial assignment and men in general did not want to listen but the women they were not in charge of family planning so kids and young ones are interested to learn about that but at first I was very naive and did not want women to become property of men and men did not allow me to talk to their women because I was.”

They never wanted them to be informed and have say in their sexuality and family planning methods and public relations battle and some legal challenges began.

“Not so many people were interested because they were talking about taboos but I’ll be carrying on until death does us apart to change the lives of East Africans, Sub saharan Africa and Africa at large.”

Bery adds “This is my home, I love this country and this is a beautiful place.

I would say if there was no this poverty issue, this HIV issue, this would definitely be a paradise to all of Africa, gifted by nature, it’s a fact, and it’s a wonderful place for people.

A wonderful country and if am allowed to be here, I would love to stay here till the end of my days and may be one day I can find someone who takes care of these kids or themselves take over what we have built for them build this foundation, organisation. This is what we hope to do and continue to create change in their own country.

Some of his kids have had dreams like becoming lawyers yet another one says wants to do orphanage to pay in return of what Bery has done for her.

Deogratius Miiro, Kalangala Human Rights Defender says many Girls are manipulated by men whereas Nazziwa Specioza a resident there says -many women decide to engage in sex work to earn money because they don’t have enough from men to take care of their needs.

Bery Guilty or Innocent of Accusations?

Prof. Dr. M. Shokry EI-Dakkak in the Department of Judiciary in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirate and Lecturer in Faculties of law in the International Islamic University- Malaysia, University of Alexandria and University of Mansourah in Egypt says that Punishment is to inflict pain; but it is not here that its difference from the moral reaction to an immoral action is to be looked for, for the latter is also of a painful nature. It does not alter matters m the least that sensitivity to this pain varies enormously in different people, and is often very small indeed.

The real difference lies in the fact that moral reprobation emanates from one or more individuals spontaneously; whereas punishment is a conscious action on the part of the collectivity (in casu the State). The content of a reproof is nothing but a moral condemnation; but when it is incorporated in criminal law, and pronounced by a judge, it becomes a punishment. A similar demarcation is indicated in the other direction. Revenge, too, is pain caused intentionally, but it is an irrational reaction of the emotions, generally of an impulsive nature, on the part of one or more persons, to a wrong which they have suffered.

Punishment, on the other hand, does not come from one or more persons; it is meted out by the group, the collectivity, acting consciously and rationally. Even in cases where nothing else is aimed at but the satisfaction of feelings of revenge, a new and essential element has emerged, i.e. conscious reaction emanating from the collectivity.

 The Purpose of Punishment, however, did originate in revenge; and the latter has certainly played its part in ensuring the safety of the community-be it imperfectly, and accompanied by grave disadvantages. In primitive forms of society taking revenge is, indeed, morally imperative. Gradually, however, as the community begins to take over this function, the position is changed, and has now turned the other way round: it is to criminology also belongs penology, or the science of punishment.

Condolences:

Meanwhile HICGI News Agency is trucking condoles messages in Europe, Uganda and beyond in respect of Bery’s death.

• Dirk Leysen Mooie foto, ik zal Bery’s smile altijd herinneren zoals op deze

Nyamungu Moureen Mora Glaser We are going to miss his sweet smile.

Sonora Meeks Innige deepening Ingrid Dilen.

Riet Deleu veel sterkte, ik leef met je mee in deze moeilijke tijden voor jou

Derek Bratton Praying for you and rest of family. Rest in peace my dear friend

Haidé Van Gheluwe Zo blijven we Bery herinneren, warm en krachtig liefs dear niece Ingrid. ❤

Natasja Van Gheluwe Veel sterkte Ingrid! Als we iets voor je kunnen betekenen … altijd welkom!

•Nabaggala Stellah We’re going to miss his big heart.

Primrose Asiimwe He was the best boss I have ever worked with. Rest in peace

• Patricia Crokaert Ingrid, heel veel sterkte!!

• Katleen Smeyers Sterkte Ingrid!

Quraish Shaishixy  on 14 March 2019 attacked Bery’s accusers and his message was tagged for global attention.

“You shouldn’t start spreading hatred just because you are using the media to confront someone. By seeking for cheap popularity, and the only way is to use one’s name to build yours. We could be nothing but we can’t be fooled… We all know the core behind your accusations and we aren’t that dumb to pick your statements…….

Someone is proved guilty by the courts of law and so you got no the vibe to pin one.

In my opinion, I take this as injustice to a fellow and total trash

#kalangalatoo @United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) @United Nations Human Rights @Uganda Police Force @The New Vision @Al-Jazeera @Daily Monitor @German Embassy Kampala @Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development

Final Call by Bery.

Poverty stricken, fearing authorities, often illiterate, and lacking alternatives; these are some of the problem factors facing girls when they are first brought to us. They are survivors of some form of physical, sexual, emotional or psychological abuse and violence, some even trafficked, abandoned – or rejected – by their legal guardians.

We provide care and shelter to these girls until their legal matters come to a close. However, their case very seldom comes to closure.

In our experience, the authorities normally lack the tools, the funds or the commitment to do so. The care providers settle such issues usually outside of the judiciary. Sometimes, we even need to provide support, to ensure that the evidence (even DNA evidence) is secured in a timely fashion and treated in the appropriate manner.

If not here, they face a challenge as poverty is an issue these days, these children are available for a pancake, a chapatis, a piece of underwear, a blink-blink – grown men using affordable girls, instead of mature woman, due to this ease of access.

Such realities are not even of concern to some Parent-Teacher Associations or School Management Committees, as educators here on the Ssese Islands are rare, stretched thinly amongst their numerous students, and seem to deserve or need some extra assistance in order to function in such a capacity.

That’s where we come in.

Of course there are the external scars of abuse, as all our kids are in need of physical and emotional rehabilitation. However, these girls need a mentor of values, self-esteem, self-respect, social tact and life skills. What these girls need most, you ask? Parental love, affection, care, community, guidance and a conductive environment which allows them to achieve and develop into responsible and valuable members of their society, as well as ours.

That’s where you come in.

With the help of community-bred sponsorship, by now some of these girls have become a permanent part of a bigger picture. Your contributions have given girls, often coming to us traumatized, abandoned, often used, abused and eventually discarded, a unique chance, an opportunity to overcome and to achieve, ultimately to live a somehow worthwhile, dignifying life, one that provides excellent choices and options.

But we are not done here.

One day, with our combined efforts, help and support, they will hopefully become such valuable members, continue what we have started, compensate our shortcomings, and succeed where we or others failed.

Last but definitely not least, I, Bery Glaser, due to my age (then 70), failing health, and even financial limitations, seek someone willing to take over from me; to become a gifted and loving parent to 30+ girls. A mentor, a counselor, but also a multitasker. Someone able to add knowledge, skills, patience, and thought, as well as a financially secure future for the girls we care for.

We don’t run an institution, but a loving family type home with a giant heart, and we need someone with parental skills to transition the home over to. So please, don’t hesitate, let’s talk and meet, and see where things end up. I, we look forward to meeting you, find compromises as long as these dont affect the well being of the ones entrusted to us. Bery

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