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Garang helicopter crash parts sent to US for testing

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Jan 9, 2006 (KAMPALA) — The team investigating the helicopter crash that killed Sudan’s former first vice president John Garang at the end of July last year, has sent parts of the helicopter wreckage to the U.S. for testing.

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Sudanese First Vice President John Garang boards a helicopter at Entebbe International Airport on his way to meet Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni at his country home in Mbarara, western Uganda, July 29, 2005. (Reuters).

John Nasasira, Uganda’s minister of works, transport and communication, was quoted by the state-owned newspaper, the New Vision, as saying on Monday that the parts of the wreckage are being tested in the United States.

"We did not have local capacity to test that equipment to get the best results. Those tests are necessary," Nasasira said.

Last September, some of the equipment was flown to Russia for analysis to determine the cause of the accident. The helicopter was manufactured in Russia.

Nasasira said the probe team would resume work in the second week of February. The probe team comprises of more than 10 technical investigators from Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, the U.S. and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLM).

Preliminary reports from the probe team indicated no foul play in the crash that killed 14 people on board despite many conspiracy theories being advanced.

Reports said that once the team resumes work, a four-member team representing Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and the United States would immediately begin questioning some 35 persons from Uganda, Russia and the SPLM, including Garang’s widow Rebecca over the crash.

John Garang, who was also the head of the SPLM, died on his way to southern Sudan from Uganda after paying a visit to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

He died in a Ugandan presidential helicopter when it crashed in southern Sudan on July 30, 2005.

(Xinhua/ST)

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