4 June 2007

Uganda: Besigye Treason Case Resumes Today

Kampala — THE treason trial against the opposition Forum for Democratic Chance Party President Kizza Besigye and 10 other men that stalled over a year ago resumes today.

Dr Besigye, a retired UPDF colonel, is jointly accused with the men linked to the shadowy Peoples Redemption Army rebel group of having plotted to overthrow President Yoweri Museveni between 2001 and 2004 using force of arms.

The case was recently fixed for hearing before a fourth judge, Eldad Mwangushya, following justices Edmund Sempa Lugayizi and John Bosco Katutsi, who stood down, and Vincent Kagaba, now retired.

The High Court summoned Dr Besigye to appear for his trial today and also ordered the prison authorities to produce the 10 men under their custody. Jailed suspects include Joseph Musasizi Kifeefe (Besigye's brother), Patrick Okiring, Yahaya Amir Asega, Idd Ahmed Yunus, Bruhan Driatre, Samson Ogupio, James Kabaka Tabuga, Robert Tweyambe, Frank Atukunda and John Arike.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Simon Byabakama is jointly prosecuting the matter with private attorneys from Kampala Associated Advocates hired at Shs2.5 billion. None of them could be reached by Daily Monitor for a comment about the preparations.

But Mr David Mpanga, one of the defence lawyers, said "we are always prepared for our client's case." Asked whether the issues that cases the stay of the case had been resolved, Mpanga said without elaboration that, "the State wants to resume the trial, but there are unresolved issues I'm going to raise in court."

The trial which started mid-March 2006 was halted on May 18 of the same year following the State's presentation of its fifth witness, Alfred Onen Kamudulu, formerly a commander in the notorious Joseph Kony-led LRA rebel group operating in northern Uganda.

The defence caused the stay of proceedings because of a constitutional petition in which they contended that Kamudulu was unclean to testify against anyone, having committed "crimes." They also challenged the continued hearing of the case before some of the bailed PRA suspects were still in jail.

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