Up to a dozen Uganda police helicopter pilots are taking a "refresher course" in Texas on visas obtained from the United States, the State Department confirmed yesterday.
The training is at the Bell Helicopter Co. school at Fort Worth for pilots using civilian models sold to Uganda up to 1971.
While the pilots will be permitted to complete the course, a department spokesman, John E. Trattner, said, "we are tightening up procedures" on visas for Ugandans.
The African country is ruled by President Idi Amin. Hundreds and possibly thousands of Ugandans are believed to have been executed as opponents of the regime.
Trtner said is no U.S. government "involvement" in the training of the pilots. He said their visas were issued at a U.S. field post, possibly in Nairobi, by American officials using "the own discretion."
Travel by Ugandans to the United States is "possibly incompatible" with Uganda's record on human rights and therefore the procedures will be tightened up, he added.
The training was described as routine customer service by Bell. Another firm, Bell Agusta of Italy, has sold Uganda military versions of the helicopters.
Meanwhile, the State Department confirmed that an American firm, Harris Corp. of Florida, had sold Uganda equipment for a communications satellite ground system. Officials did not have the date of the sale, but it was during Amin's reign.
Columnist Jack Anderson first published information describing the Ugandan developments.