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Dr. Sentamu called to testify in bigamy trial: The Church of England Newspaper, Dec 3, 2010 p 6. December 7, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of York, Church of England Newspaper.
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Dr John Sentamu

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of York has been called to give evidence in the case of priest accused of bigamy and immigration fraud.

Trial began last week in the case the Rev. Samuel Bisaso, a chaplain with the Mission to Seafarers in Immingham until his arrest last year.  The accused has been charged with making a false statement at register office that he was a bachelor, when he was lawfully married.  The Ugandan native is also accused of two counts of obtaining leave to remain in Britain by deception and of possessing a false passport.

On July 27, 1996, Mr. Bisaso married fellow Ugandan immigrant Rebecca Muwonge.  The ceremony took place at Holy Trinity Church in Tulse Hill, Lambeth, South London and was conducted by Dr. John Sentamu.

Mr. Bisaso told the court the marriage did not work out, and he returned shortly thereafter to Uganda, believing his first marriage was “void”.   In 1998 he returned to the UK, and married a Proscovia Nakamya at the Newham Register Office.  However, prosecutors have argued this second marriage was with the same woman whom he married in 1996, and that Mrs. Bisaso had assumed the identity of her niece for the ceremony.

Mrs. Bisaso’s application to remain in Britain was denied in 1999.  Prosecutors claimed she then married a Swedish national under her original name of Muwonge in order to remain in the UK as the spouse of an EU citizen.

Dr. Sentamu testified via videolink on Nov 29 before the Hove Trial Centre, stating he had been acquainted with Mr. Bisaso’s father in Uganda, and that Mr. Bisaso had attended his parish in 1996.

“When I conduct weddings of people who are not British nationals, I need to be sure in myself they are not underage and also that they are not prohibited for any reason from getting married.”

“You have to be very careful. You need to see the full documentation. With anyone who is not a British citizen I have to make sure I am working within the rules,” Dr. Sentamu said.

The Bisasos have denied the charges of making false statements, immigration fraud and bigamy. The trial continues.

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