15 March 2019

Uganda: Treason Case - Police Ask for Phone Passwords

Gulu — Police have requested Gulu Magistrate's Court to order treason suspects whose mobile phones were confiscated during the Arua Municipality by-election, surrender their passwords to aid them in investigations.

Mr Herbert Wanyoto, the West Nile Regional Police officer in charge of criminal investigations, Mr Davis Nsambu, the criminal investigations officer in Arua District and Mr Ronald Were (former Gulu CID) made the request yesterday while appearing before magistrate Isaac Imran Kintu in Gulu District.

The officers were summoned to give an update on the property they confiscated from MPs and other suspects arrested during the Arua chaos following complaints from the defence lawyers in January.

Mr Wanyoto said some phones have complicated passwords which has delayed their investigations.

He said earlier efforts to compel the suspects to provide their passwords and thumb prints were futile as the latter were uncooperative.

The defence lawyers had argued that their clients' properties, especially the phones were being misused by State operatives.

It is alleged that police confiscated 20 mobile phones, four vehicles, a handbag, knickers, a pistol, jewellery and money amounting to more than Shs90m.

Defence request

The defence team also asked the court to issue orders to various telecom companies for call printouts of the MPs' phones on account that unknown people used them to contact their close family members.

Mr Nsambu said three cars belonging to Kyandondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, aka, Bobi Wine, were confiscated from the scene of crime after being abandoned.

He also said the pistol recovered from the Arua Municipality MP, Mr Kassiano Wadri, is still under investigation.

However, Mr Tony Kitara, a defence lawyer, rejected the request, saying compelling his clients to surrender their passwords is self-incrimination.

Mr Kitara said the police officers did not explain the whereabouts of the other items of their clients.

He asked court to stay the proceeding so that a legal question is framed and sent to the Constitutional Court for interpretation.

Mr Kitara wants the Constitutional Court to interpret whether a trial can proceed against suspects whose constitutional rights were allegedly violated during their arrest.

Mr Kintu said he would give his ruling on the defence team's request on July 4.

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