13 February 2018

Uganda: Kitatta Objects to Being Tried in Army Court

Photo: The Observer
The suspects in the Military Court dock.

Abdallah Kitatta the patron of the infamous Boda Boda 2010 militia has objected to being tried in the Military Court Martial arguing that he is not a soldier.

Appearing before the General Court Martial presided over by its chairman Lt Gen. Andrew Guti, Kitatta and ten of his co accused refused to take plea arguing that as civilians they should be tried in a civilian court.

The suspects are charged with up to six counts; all related to illegal possession of military equipment.

Prosecution led by Maj. Raphael Mugisha alleges that on January 26 while at Wakaliga, Kitatta and his co accused, were found with one SMG machine gun, two pistols, 30 rounds of ammunition of an SMG, 20, rounds of ammunition for a pistol and military stores including headgear and uniform without holding a valid firearms certificate.

The said items are a preserve of the military. After objecting to their trail, Guti advised them to consult their lawyers to understand the gravity of the offences against them.

"You should talk to you lawyers and tell you what happens to a person found in possession of military equipment. Your lawyers will give you a clear understanding of the charges. These charges are serious; they are not as simple as you might play there," Guti said.

Prosecution lawyer, Maj. Mugisha said the court can't proceed with the hearings because first, investigations into the matter were still ongoing but also that the procedure of the court bars it from proceeding on the matter once its jurisdiction is challenged.

"The accused persons have raised an issue of jurisdiction... .therefore they should bring evidence to show that they are not supposed to be tried by this General Court Martial," Mugisha said.

State defense lawyer of four of the accused, Lieutenant Brain Mugi agreed with prosecution lawyer, arguing that there was also need for adjournment to allow him consult his clients and establish evidence why they think they shouldn't be tried by the court.

Kitatta's and five of the accused's lawyer, Joseph Kiryowa also asked for more time to prepare a written submission why he thinks his clients must not be tried by the military court.

Guti adjourned the hearing to February 27, remanding the accused to Luzira prison until then. Kitatta is accused together with Joel Kibirige, Matia Ssenfuka, Hassan Ssebatta, Jonathan Kayondo, Hassan Ssebbowa, Sunday Ssemwogerere, John Ssebandeke, Hussein Mugema, Fred Bwanika and Amon Twinomujuni.

They were arrested on January 22 by the army after being linked to the murder of Case hospital accountant Francis Ekalugar. Ekalugar was kidnapped this year on January 2, while on his way to the bank. His body was found burnt in Kajjansi the following day.

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