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Finnish man hawking Patria arms found dead in Uganda hotel room

Police in Uganda are investigating the death of a 40-year-old Finnish businessman found in his hotel room. Police are operating on the premise that he died of natural causes, but are not ruling out foul play.

Kampala kaupunkinäkymä
The Finnish businessman was found dead in a hotel room in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. Image: Dai Kurokawa / EPA

Police in the Ugandan capital Kampala are investigating the death of a Finnish businessman whose body was found in a hotel in the capital.

The Finnish Foreign Ministry has confirmed the death, which occurred last week. The man was said to be in Uganda promoting defence technology from the Finnish state defence contractor Patria, to local defence forces.

The deceased worked for a small management consulting firm and was also involved in a number of other business ventures, two of which provided security and guard services.

Foul play not ruled out

Kampala police said that for the moment, they are investigating the incident as death from natural causes, but they have not ruled out the possibility of foul play.

“An autopsy has been performed but nothing points to murder,” Luke Owoyesigire of Kampala police told Yle by phone.

“We are awaiting a toxicology report. When it is ready we will know whether or not he was poisoned or something of that sort,” he added.

Last week local police detained a Ugandan woman in connection with the case. She had reportedly come to meet the Finnish man at the airport and had visited his hotel room several times. The woman was later released because there was insufficient evidence to keep her in custody, police noted. However she is required to report her movements to police.

The spokesman said that police found narcotics at the site -- the Pearl of Africa hotel, a popular location with Westerners. However it is not yet known whether the drugs had been used or who brought them to the hotel room.

Forged invitation letter from security officials

During their preliminary investigation, police determined that upon his arrival in Uganda, the Finnish businessman had presented airport officials with a forged letter of invitation.

“We are currently investigating who forged the letter and who issued the invitation,” Owoyesigire said.

The counterfeit letter purported to have come from Ugandan interior security services chief, Colonel Frank Bagyenda Kaka. Bagyenda reportedly told the Ugandan paper the Daily Monitor that he had not invited the Finn to visit the country.

Before his death the man had allegedly met with security service employees. Owoyesigire said however, that police have no information about what they discussed. Ugandan media have reported that the man arrived in the country one week ago.

Patria marketing material found

On Monday, Patria admitted that its Patria Land business unit had granted the man permission to market Patria weapons in Uganda. The man reportedly said that he would meet with representatives of the Ugandan Defence Ministry and had taken Patria marketing material with him.

Patria said that it had run a background check on the man, but it had shown no reason why the firm should not cooperate with him. The company said that it is not currently doing any business in the East African country.

Patria communications head Birgitta Selonen said that it is not unusual for the company to use external parties to sell its products without written agreements. However she said that consultants can voluntarily decide to market the firm’s products.

The Foreign Ministry’s Arms Control unit said that it is not currently reviewing any arms deals with Uganda.

Former NCP minister was also on trip

Uganda press reported that former National Coalition Party minister Suvi Lindén was also in Uganda, something she confirmed to the tabloid daily Ilta-Sanomat.

Lindén’s associates also told Yle that she had been on the trip. However she did not return calls from Yle.

According to Iltalehti, Lindén and the deceased man had previously collaborated on other business projects.

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