Suspected German paedophile who died at Luzira prison to be cremated

Tuesday May 12 2020
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This photo taken in December 2013 shows Bernhard Berry Glaser in the court over sexual abuse offenses arising from alleged molestation of young Ugandan girls in Kalangala District. FILE PHOTO

The body of Bernhard Glaser, a German national, who died last week at Luzira prison where he had been remanded for sex-related offences, is to be cremated today.
This is after the public health department of the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) approved the exercise.
Glaser, who at the time of his demise was facing multiple sexual abuse offenses arising from alleged molestation of young Ugandan girls in Kalangala District, will be cremated at Hindu Crematorium at 10am.
He succumbed to cancer on May 7, 2020, a day after the High Court in Kampala had granted him a cash bail of Shs30m so that he could be flown abroad for more specialized cancer treatment.

"Permission granted to Ntambiko Albert to cremate the body of the late Bernhard Glaser," reads the permission notice of KCCA issued on Monday.
Sources close to the deceased said he had included in his Will that once he died, they should not bother to return his remains to Germany but instead, cremate his body and put the ash in an envelope and ship it to his wife.
Glaser was the founder of Sesse Humanitarian Service in Kalangala District; a community based private shelter that used to advocate for children rights and education of young girls.
The rehabilitation centre that he operated, mostly provided psychosocial care to victims of sexual-related offences.

However, he was later accused of sexually harassing the less privileged children under his care, leading to his arrest and subsequent trial. He faced eight charges of aggravated defilement, 19 counts of aggravated child trafficking, one count of indecent assault and another count of operating an approved children's home.
He was first arrested in November 2013 and charged after two children under his care accused him of sexual abuse. The minors aged between 12 and 14, said that Glaser had repeatedly defiled them since 2007. He stayed in detention for more than two months.
During the operation in which he was arrested, police said they recovered a dildo and lubricants that he allegedly applied to the victims before defiling them. The detectives also said they had found that all girls at the facility had implants, one of the options used by women in family planning.

Subsequently, 21 suspected victims were relocated to Kampala for safe custody, but 19 of the children returned to Kalangala days later.
In 2015, Justice John Eudes Keitirima dismissed all cases against him due to lack of evidence. The case was reinstated in February 2019 with some amendments.
He was charged with 19 counts of aggravated trafficking of children, five counts of aggravated defilement, one count of indecent assault and one count of operating an approved children's home.
Glaser had applied for bail to seek treatment for stage four cancer of the skin (Melanoma) and diabetes.

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  • Sexual abuse tale stokes controversy in Kalangala

    Monday July 29 2019

    PANORAMAPIX

    At Bery’s place, a shelter for sexually abused girls in the sleepy rhythms of Mwena Island, life was a routine. By 7am, all the girls were expected to have woken up; there was a timetable for house chores; cooking, cleaning the house and mowing the lawn.

    The shelter, or Bery’s place as it was commonly referred to around Kalangala, always accommodated up to 30 girls. But in-between school and other intervals, at least 15 girls lived there.
    When Stella Nabaggala was first brought to the shelter in 2006, only Bery, his wife Ingrid Dilen, a local house-help, and a few ‘volunteers’—visitors from America or Europe, who frequented the place, lived at the shelter located at Mwena Landing Site. It is part of Kalangala District, an archipelago of 64 habitable islands, and an allure for visitors because of its breath-taking beauty.

    “I was living with my elderly grandmother and life was a daily struggle,” recalls Nabaggala, who left the shelter in 2014 after completing her vocational studies to create space for others but also to start her own adult life. “There is a certain gentleman I don’t remember who talked to the headmaster of the school where I was going, who later convinced my grandmother to let go of me.”

    Like that, Nabaggala became the first girl/child at Bery’s place. According to numerous accounts, Bery first visited Kalangala as a tourist in 2005 and was fascinated by its nature. He decided to stay much longer than he had anticipated in this place.

    After consultations with district authorities, in 2006, he was authorised to establish a psychosocial humanitarian centre in Mwena Village, Kalangala Town Council. The idea of the centre was to rehabilitate victims of child abuse.

    The district social welfare officer, Mr Willy Nkumbi, tells Daily Monitor that as much as Bery ensured he acquired lawful custody for the girls from either the court or local authorities, the place was registered as a “community based organisation but not as a shelter.”

    “We don’t have any shelter registered in Kalangala, so he operated it illegally,” Mr Nkumbi explains.
    “There is doubt he was doing a good job here; we always told him to register his home as a shelter with the ministry of Gender in Kampala but he kept promising to do so from time to time,” he adds.

    Victim of his own actions
    Earlier on in February, police raided Bery’s place, ransacked it in search of exhibits, interrogated some girls and expelled others, according to people who witnessed the episode. Bery was not home at the time; he was arrested later when he presented himself to police in March.

    On April 2, he was charged before the Masaka High Court on 27 counts of aggravated trafficking of children and defilement. The 71-year-old pleaded not guilty.
    Before the court process kicked off in earnest, according to those close to him, the first accusation levelled against him is that he lived with the girls “illegally.” But much more grave allegations of defilement surfaced.

    In the court of public opinion, Bery has been convicted as a paedophile. But there are conflicting accounts about what exactly transpired at the shelter.
    Bery’s conduct came under the microscope five years ago. He was first arrested in December 2013 on similar charges and charged later in 2014 but the case collapsed due to lack of evidence.

    Sometime in 2017, according to multiple accounts, Bery invited Asia Namusoke, who was doing charity work in Kalangala, with the view to a partnership and possibly the latter taking over from the aging sickly German. The two met on Facebook.

    Ms Namusoke, who describes herself as an HIV-Aids counsellor and an advocate of girl child rights, is specifically accused of having plotted the downfall of Bery to take over his work, allegations she denies.

    “He [Bery] invited me to go and work with him; he thought I was the best person to succeed him. When I reached at this place, there was a lot that was happening that I did not agree with; he was a social worker, mentor father, finance guy, and everything else,” Ms Namusoke says.

    “Secondly, he was sleeping in the same house with 30 girls, and the same house was attracting all sorts of guests and the same girls were serving alcohol to the tourists and sleeping with them,” she adds. Asked why she would partner with Bery who was already faced with allegations of molesting and inserting birth control implants in girls as young as nine years, Ms Namusoke says: “I was also shocked that he picked me. Maybe he thought I had donors who would bring in money.”

    Claims
    “When I made a decision to go in [at Bery’s], I wanted to rescue the girls. I needed to design a strategy; the first thing I was supposed to do was to work closely with him. The other strategy was to empower the girls; it took the girls two years to open up to me: it was not easy for them to open up to me but I showed them how they could turn challenges into opportunities; I was already working with girls that are vulnerable,” she adds. Those against Ms Namusoke allege that her plan began to fall in place after she established a charity, People in Need Agency, to help victims of sexual abuse and those living with HIV/Aids from the islands.

    However, she argues: “I don’t have any money; I work with people to mobilise the little they can to cause change.”
    Last year, Ms Namusoke travelled with some of the girls from Bery’s place for an Aids conference in Netherlands, and later Belgium, where they talked about their experiences of growing in Kalangala’s deviant environment.

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    Closed. Bery’s shelter in Mwena Village, Kalangala Town Council, that used to accommodate about 30 girls before it was closed by police. COURTESY PHOTOS

    While they did not talk about being abused by Bery, their stories captivated the audiences, money trickled in and on return, the girls were looking at starting another life.
    Officially, police say it closed Bery’s place but the place remains open as there are some girls living there.

    A girl at the shelter, whose identity we cannot reveal because she is a minor, says there are now facing an uncertain future. She reveals that some of her colleagues have been contacted by some of the girls accusing Bery and are due to testify in court “to join their side” and will be rewarded.

    The girl reveals that one of the girls, who is Bery’s accuser, is the link between her and her American sponsor through which money is channeled, so she fears that if she is not complicit, she might not receive her tuition.

    Allegations
    Nineteen-year-old Winnie Nansamba, one of Bery’s accusers, claims she was sold into marriage at the age of 11 by a paternal uncle to a fisherman who relocated her from Sembabule District to Lambu Village, one of the islands in Kalangala.

    After months of sexual abuse by her husband, who she claims often kept her locked inside the house, she escaped—wandered until police rescued her and placed her into Bery’s custody.
    Nansamba claims on arrival at Bery’s shelter, he personally examined her for sexually transmitted diseases, and “would insert cleansing tablets” into her private parts.

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    Controversial. Mr Bery at the shelter in Kalangala before his arrest.

    “After this treatment, I was allowed to integrate with other girls but to my dismay I found a policy; Bery had cancer and diabetes, so girls were sharing a room with him, for which I thought at first was to assist him immediately whenever he needed his medicine given his old age,” Nansamba recalls.

    “We were doing this in shifts, and then came my turn.”
    “At first I thought I was going to sleep on the mattress below his bed but he told me to lie with him on the bed. Deep in the night, he started kissing me and pressing my breasts; I started screaming but he held my lips; he told me If I did not comply, I did not have a future at his home.”

    Nansamba claims Bery started abusing her when she was in Primary Five. She claims she did not speak out as this was her only ticket to attaining an education up to university.

    However, two other girls, who lived at the shelter with Nansamba, dispute the claims.
    Angella Nakalanzi says when Nansamba was brought to the shelter, they were warned to stay away from her after she was diagnosed with numerous sexually transmitted diseases, and it was one of the female-house helps, Ziadah Namiiro, who treated her not Bery.

    “Winnie is lying. When she came here, they told us she has been picked up from marriage and she had many diseases. They told us not share anything until she was well; in fact Bery never touched her, it was always Namiiro,” Nakalanzi says.

    “For all the years we lived together at Bery’s, there was nothing those girls are claiming ever took place.” Namiiro described the claims by Ms Namusoke’s group as “absolute lies” and claimed that Bery confided in her before his arrest that money was the genesis of his fallout with Ms Namusoke.

    “When Bery was first arrested in 2013, it was Winnie [and Anita, another girl we talked to] who defended him. It is now surprising they are the ones accusing him,” a teary Namiiro narrates.

    Ms Prossy Nalubega, a resident who handed her two daughters to Bery to help take care of them and frequented the home, says there is a likelihood that those girls, who never got his affection, are the ones who turned against him.

    “When Bery was first arrested, I sat down my children and pressed them to confess anything they knew but they even cried, saying the claims were false. When the claims re-emerged, they said the same except this time they said they heard they was a fallout over money with some lady Bery had invited over to work with,” Ms Nalubega says.

    Anita Namubiru, 23, claims Bery took away her innocence during her Primary Seven vacation and she is appalled that some people are finding it hard to believe their stories.

    “I served the longest in that man’s bedroom, can anyone imagine what we went through; that man would make you do things but on the outside, he would manipulate everyone that he is the good person,” Namubiru says as she sobs. Like Nansamba, Namubiru says she ran away from Bery’s place shortly after joining university but she visited him often, usually spending three days at the shelter.

    Namubiru’s account is, however, disputed by Nabaggala, the first girl to live at Bery’s place.

    “I was studying with Anita in the same class and we were good friends. She first visited for a day but later arrangements were made with her father for her to come over. For the time we lived here, we shared everything and confided in each other but that Bery always abused her is something I cannot believe,” Nabaggala says.

    Counter-accusations
    “Even if Bery had attempted, trust me we would have known; Anita and those girls are lying. They must have been motivated by something because when Bery was first arrested they defended him,” she adds.
    After police raided Bery’s place, some of the girls were moved to Entebbe and are supported by several NGOs, including Namusoke’s PINA and Willow International.

    Weeks later, an online campaign, GoFundMe, was created on March 19 with plans of raising $30,000 (about Shs110m), of which $12,032 (Shs44m) has been secured so far.

    The money, according to the campaign titled ‘Safety & Healing for Kalangala Survivors’, is to help rent a home that will house up to 20 girls that “were victims of Bernhard Glaser’s sexual abuse and trafficking.”

    During our month long investigation, Daily Monitor established that money is an integral part in the ongoing scheme; there are several donors from America and Europe who bankrolled Bery’s activities but in the aftermath of his troubles, have since refocused their efforts.

    According to multiple interviews, it is alleged that Bery and Namusoke fell out as a result of accountability related issues, which the latter denies.

    Reactions
    Denial. Namusoke’s claim that Bery inserted birth control implants in all the girls even young ones as nine year was denied by officials at both Kalangala Health Centre IV where she said the girls were routinely abused to, and Marie Stopes, which provides contraception and safe abortion services.
    “A nine-year-old girl cannot even come for family planning services,” said Dr Milton Awudo, the director of technical services at Marie Stopes. “That said, implants, like other family planning services are not forced on anyone; the work is that we go in the villages creating awareness: those who feel like they need the services look for them, but no one is forced.

  • Suspected German paedophile Bernhard Glaser dies in prison

    Thursday May 07 2020


    Mr Bernhard Glaser, a German national who has been battling cases of sexual abuse in court following accusations of molesting Ugandan girls has passed on.

    According to his lawyer Evans Ochieng, Glaser died on Thursday morning from Luzira Prison.

    Glaser, also known as Bery, was on Wednesday granted a cash bail of Shs30m by Kampala High Court Judge Moses Kazibwe to enable him travel to Belgium for cancer treatment. However, he was sent back to prison after failing to raise the money.

    Prisons spokesperson Mr Frank Baine, while confirming the Glaser's death, said they are waiting on the German Embassy's guidance on the way forward.

    "Accordingly, even at the time of arrest he had a history of cancer and after his arrest he was still sick, he was taken to Masaka hospital and later transferred to Murchison Bay hospital then Mulago where he stayed for two months," Mr Baine said.

    "He was given a referral to go abroad for treatment and since there was no space for him at Mulago, he had to come back to Murchison Bay where he breathed his last . The relatives and stakeholders are informed including the German Embassy," he added.

    Glaser was the Director of Ssese Humanitarian Services, a Community Based Organisation located at Mwena landing site in Kalangala district. The humanitarian initiative was reportedly set up to provide rehabilitation services to infected, affected, abused and violated girls in Kalangala district. The centre known among locals as Bery's place also provided psychosocial care to victims of sexual-related offences.

    At the place, Glaser hosted only female children who received training in reflexology and Sexual Reproductive Health.

    However, he was later accused of sexually harassing the less privileged children under his care, leading to his arrest and subsequent trial. He faced eight charges of aggravated defilement and 19 counts of aggravated child trafficking.

    He was first arrested in November 2013 and charged after two children under his care accused him of sexual abuse. The minors aged between 12 and 14, said that Glaser had repeatedly defiled them since 2007. He stayed in detention for more than two months.

    During the operation in which he was arrested, police recovered a dildo and lubricants that he allegedly applied to the victims before defiling them. The detectives found that all girls at the facility had implants, one of the options used by women in family planning.

    Subsequently, 21 suspected victims were relocated to Kampala for safe custody, but 19 of the children returned to Kalangala days later.

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

    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.

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    Bernhard Glaser, lying in court room at the High court in Kampala on Wednesday. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA

    Although he was expected to get medical treatment from German following the recommendation of the head of the Uganda Cancer Institute, Dr Jackson Orem, Mr Glaser remained in prison, while seeking care from cancer institute.

    According to Dr Orem, there was evidence of progression of cancer, to a level that could not be handled by the Uganda Cancer Institute. Stage four melanoma means cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, brain, or other organs and tissue.

    The organization’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."

    Additional reporting by NTV Uganda

  • Trial of German ‘child molester’ stalls over lack of interpreter

    Sunday October 27 2019

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    Masaka High Court Judge Winfred Nabisinde has for the third time adjourned the trial of Bernhard Berry Glaser, a Kalangala-based German national, accused of molesting children due to absence of a language interpreter.
    On Friday, Justice Nabisinde told court that they made efforts to get a language interpreter through both the embassies of Germany and Belgium in Kampala but did not succeed.

    During one of his court appearances last month, Mr Glaser said he was not conversant with English and preferred to use Flemish, a dialect spoken in Belgium.
    “Following the refusal of the first interpreter we had secured, we managed to write letters to the German Embassy through the Ministry of Internal Affairs asking for an interpreter, but they declined on grounds that Germany uses German language, not Flemish,” the judge said.

    Justice Nabisinde also revealed that after receiving a negative response from the German Embassy, they wrote to the embassy of Belgium, which also declined the invitation saying Mr Glaser is not their national.
    She said court then wrote to Makerere University Institute of Languages, which told them that they had no capacity to secure the required interpreter.

    The court, she said, is still making further efforts to get an interpreter for the case to proceed.
    Mr Glaser’s legal team led by Mr Caleb Alaka sought temporary release of their client on bail, informing court that their client was on October 21 taken to Kitovu Hospital in Masaka for treatment and the doctor realised that he had a big wound, which urgently needed treatment .
    “The accused can no longer open his mouth, cannot eat or chew anything, the medical team recommended that a tube be inserted in him and he urgently needs to be transferred to Mulago Cancer Institute,” Mr Alaka told court before asking the judge to look at Glaser’s wound.

    Justice Nabisinde, however, ruled that Masaka Main Prison should make arrangements for Glaser to be taken to Murchison Bay, Luzira, for treatment until December 3 when court hopes to get an interpreter for the case to proceed.
    Glaser, the director of Ssese Humanitarian Service, a non-governmental organisation located at Mwena Landing Site in Kalangala District, faces eight charges of aggravated defilement and 19 counts of aggravated child trafficking.

    He was first arrested in December 2013, on suspicion of sexually abusing 19 minors in his care in Kalangala. He was later acquitted by court after the State failed to get incriminating evidence against him.
    In February this year, police detectives again raided Mr Glaser’s home in Kalangala and said they rescued at least 11 children in his care. Police did not find Mr Glaser at his home at the time.
    He was arrested later when he presented himself at police.

    editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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