29 December 2016

Uganda: Court Orders for Production of Missing Kasese Suspects

Photo: Denis Edema/Daily Monitor
Some of the Rwenzururu subjects board the prisons bus headed back to Kirinya prison where they are being detained after court proceedings.

Jinja — Jinja Chief Magistrate John Francis Kaggwa, yesterday ordered government to produce the missing suspects arrested during the November 27 raid on Rwenzururu Kingdom palace in Kasese District.

More than 13 suspects who were arrested during the raid remain unaccounted for, more than a month after the UPDF-led raid on Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere's palace which left more than 116 people dead.

Mr Kaggwa ordered the State to produce the missing suspects or else he will be forced to order for their unconditional release.

The more than 13 missing suspects have never been formally produced before the courts of law and charged despite their names being reflected on the charge sheet that now has 159 suspects including the jailed king, and the acting kingdom prime minister Thembo Katsumbire.

The law

The orders of the court require the State to produce the missing suspects at the next court appearance date of January12. The law requires that suspects are produced before court within 48 hours from the time of their arrest and yet the missing persons have spent close to a month in police detention without formally being charged.

Also to be produced before court on January 12 2017 are the four juvenile suspects who were not produced yesterday from Naguru Remand Home in Kampala over transport challenges.

Prior to the orders of the court, prosecution led by Ms Juliet Najunju claimed the missing persons are in different hospitals like Mbarara, Bushenyi, Bombo for treatment after they were injured in the November 27 clashes at the palace.

Defense claims

Defence lawyers led by Caleb Alaka, Samuel Muyizzi Mulindwa, Evans Ochieng and Eron Kizza, on the contrary, argued that the missing suspects were in police custody, a period of detention that they said had shot beyond the recommended constitutional 48-hours. "State has made blanket response that the missing persons are in different hospitals.

These are human beings, they have rights and their relatives are in doubt, the whole country is in doubt about their being in the hospitals. We are not asking much, their whereabouts should be known..." lead defense counsel Alaka submitted to a crowded court.

"How come that the very missing persons were sanctioned on a charge sheet but they are nowhere to be seen..." Alaka asked.

The court also directed that the five accused persons including Mr Katsumbire be relocated from Kirinya Government Prison in Jinja District to Luzira prison near Kampala over health and sanity concerns.

The defense lawyers successfully submitted to court that some of the accused persons have rotting wounds that would soon become cancerous due to lack of proper medication at Kirinya prison and that one of the suspects is a mentally disabled man.

Submitting on the health of the kingdom premier, counsel Ochieng argued that he suffers from pressure, ulcers and urinal problems that can't be effectively handled at Kirinya prison. "We cannot try people who are dead, I pray that those accused I have singled out be transferred to Luzira prison..." counsel Ochieng submitted before the court agreed.

Earlier, counsel Alaka brought to the attention of the court what he called "appalling and inhumane" conditions in Kirinya prison where most of Omusinga's royal guards are being incarcerated.

Mr Alaka told court that the prison is infected with bedbugs and that two inmates share a blanket, before successfully praying to court to order prison authorities to change for better.

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