24 January 2013

Uganda: Brig Tolit, Tumukunde Clash in Court

The Army General Court Martial at Makindye was treated to some drama yesterday when former ISO boss Brig Henry Tumukunde walked into the defendant's dock before his time.

The court chairman, Brig Fred Tolit then chased him out and even threatened to cancel his bail.

"You should be the least to disrespect court. It is a shame that I raise my voice towards you in a place like this one where we follow court procedure," Tolit said.

"I'm really shocked because I was ordered to come here," a chastened Tumukunde responded.

Tumukunde had come to listen to the final submissions in his eight-year trial on two counts: misconduct and spreading harmful propaganda, contrary to the UPDF Act. Although his case had been lined up first among the eight scheduled to be heard, Tumukunde was finally called in after two other cases had been disposed of.

As Tumukunde stood in the dock, a now calm Tolit greeted him before reminding him that he was on duty.

"You have been my friend, you're my friend and you remain my friend but unfortunately, the law does not know our relationship," Tolit continued. "If you want to turn this court into a drama club, we shall not only not accept it but it will not happen, though I have nothing personal against you."

State prosecutor Capt Fredrick Kangwano was then ordered to make his final submissions.


Kangwano told the fully- packed court that prosecution had proven its case beyond reasonable doubt after presenting three witnesses. He held that Tumukunde, registration number RO 0111 actually committed the two offences on May 5, 2005 while appearing on Spectrum, a talk show on Radio One.


Kangwano submitted that the first prosecution witness Mary Kadigo, a lecturer in the Institute of languages at Makerere University had proven that Tumukunde had spread seeds of hatred against the government, a case punishable with either life imprisonment or death on conviction. Tumukunde is alleged to have asked among other things how much time someone needs to step down from power.

According to prosecution, this was bound to create division within the army, an institution that strictly adheres to discipline. The second witness Private Zakaria Manzi, who was in charge of recording political radio programmes, testified that though he recorded the programme outside of the station, he had identified Tumukunde's voice, as he was once his commander.

Both the audio tape recording of the programme and the transcript were tendered in court as exhibits.

"We have proven that the scene of crime was Radio One and that the broadcast was aired to wide audience and that a one David Mushabe was the moderator of the programme," submitted Kangwano.

The prosecutor continued that the third witness, Col (then Major) Felix Kulayigye had convinced court that Tumukunde never sought the permission of the Chief of Staff before appearing on the talk show. While Mushabe refused to testify against Tumukunde, arguing that the two were relatives, the prosecution maintained that it had a good case.

Court has adjourned the case to February 13, 2013 to allow Tumukunde's lawyers Emmanuel Twarebireho and Oscar Kambona to make a response to the prosecution's final submissions.

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