What Did Bob Astles Know?

In an interview with Tim Rice on BBC’s HARDtalk  Major Bob said he ‘always kept his mouth shut’, that Lt. Col. Farouk Minawa (the head of the State Research Bureaux in 1977) was the killer, and that Charles Oboth-Ofumbi (Amin’s Minister of Internal Affairs,  killed in 1977) knew where all the bodies were. Bob Astle’s was a friend of my father’s which is why I could never understand why he did nothing to help us when my father disappeared, he would not even speak to my mother. He always denies having killed any one himself. In his interview with Tim Rice he says ‘….when your own friends are murdered you know there’s something going wrong – who murders them is another thing’.

Giles Foden also had the priviledge of an interview with Bob Astle’s which is reported on in the Bundu Times  May 1978 (I struggled to find the original reference in the Guardian) Dictator’s ‘white rat’ now a Wimbledon wobbly. In this interview Bob Astle’s once again denies being involved in or being responsible for the violence and killings during Idi Amin’s  days. Giles writes:

”What he did or did not do remains murky – even, I suspect, in his own mind, which shows clear signs of mental distress. “Of course,” he says, “you don’t know if I’ve told you the truth. Check it, check everything.”

Scruffy perches on top of Astles’s balding head and starts pecking it, and I think, I’ve got about as much chance of getting in there as that bird has.

Then Astles points to a package wrapped in string and manila paper under the table. “It’s all in there, Betty will publish my book when I’m gone.”

So how could I rely on any account given by Bob Astle’s? An old friend of my father’s  in Uganda said he thinks Astle’s does not know, or he would have written about it himself, as he makes money writing. Yet others including the Kampala Mayor Hajji NASSER NTEGE SEBAGGALA,  ( another old family friend who, incidentally, went with my mother to search for my father on the day he disappeared) tell me I must speak to Astle’s as surely he knows the truth. I can’t find where Astle’s is, and although Giles Foden has on a couple of occasions offer to assist with this, I am still waiting. I think, if Astle’s himself says the truth is in his book only to be published when he dies, then I may have to wait until he does.Tthere would be no way of knowing if what he said was true even if I could speak to him. I suspect he is a tough old goat and may not pop off for some time!



  1. Just finished reading jon Snow’s autobio. ‘Shooting History” and he desribes how Astles was covered in blood after the murder of some troublesome ” coffee salesmen” in a boat in the hotel grounds.Howcan he possibly say he didn’t have blood on his hands. !

    • Dear Richard,
      Thank you so much for your comment on my blog. I think we all know that Bob Astles did exactly what he had to do to survive the Amin regime, and ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ so he did. I wonder that he survived even after the fall of Amin, rather like a cockroach he must have been so rotten he wouldn’t die no matter how they tried to crush him. Sadly he would tell us nothing of my father. These evil people will not incriminate themselves, they would rather burn in hell than admit their guilt, how can they sleep well at night with so much guilt on their hands?
      Regards from Chérie Scanlon

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