Uganda: Police Release Kabuleta Four Days After His Arrest

Journalist — Turned pastor Joseph Kabuleta has been released from police custody after his arrest in Kampala, police told this newspaper last evening.

Criminal Investigations Department spokesperson Charles Twine last evening said: "The man has been released on bond as the DPP studies his case file. If the DPP determines that the evidence we have assembled is sufficient to warrant prosecution, we will rearrest [Kabuleta] when reports to police on bond and take him to court."

This comes after his family yesterday petitioned the High Court seeking orders to have him produced in court or be released from detention where he has been held since last Friday on charges of offensive communication against President Museveni.

The family under counsel Walyemera & Company Advocates filed a habeas corpus (an application for production or release of a suspect) to court to order the Commandant of Special Investigations Unit, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Attorney General (AG) to produce him or release him.

His arrest

Kabuleta was arrested by security men in civilian clothes at a restaurant at Forest Mall at Lugogo in Kampala last Friday. He was driven away to the police Special Investigations Unit in Kireka on the outskirts of Kampala.

Police said they were holding Kabuleta on charges of offensive communication when he allegedly used his social media account to annoy the President. He has been publishing articles on his social media account about an alleged succession battle raging within the ruling NRM party.

In a sworn affidavit supporting the application for his release, Kabuleta's wife, Ms Rebecca Kabuleta, stated that his detention is illegal, unconstitutional and an infringement on his personal liberty because he was being held incommunicado without being produced in the courts of law or accorded access to his next of kin.

"Upon his arrest, he was driven around and we eventually discovered that he had been taken to Special Investigations Unit Kireka where he has been illegally detained to date yet the said SIU is not a gazette detention facility," the wife's affidavit read in part.

"The security has blocked me and the applicant's other relatives, medical doctors and legal team from accessing him to date," the affidavit further read.

The law

The Constitution states that a person arrested on suspicion of committing an offence should not be held in detention for more than 48 hours without being charged in court or released.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Justice Mike Chibita, yesterday said his office would take a decision on Kabuleta's case file by end of week. The decision will determine whether Kabuleta should be taken to court or not.

"We received that file and it's still under perusal and a decision has not yet been taken. But since you people (journalists) are interested in it, a decision will be made before the end of this week," Mr Chibita told journalists at his office in Kampala.

On Monday, Police spokesperson Fred Enanga told the press that Kabuleta's case file had been forwarded to the DPP for legal advice.

When asked again yesterday about Kabuleta's continued detention, Mr Enanga reiterated that they would hold him until the DPP's decision.

On Saturday, Ms Kabuleta and lawyers visited him at Kireka but were allowed to only see him not to talk to him.

When they returned to Kireka on Monday, they were blocked from seeing him.

At yesterday's press conference, Justice Chibita also applauded the media that have been publishing stories on corruption in Uganda's justice system.

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