Uganda: Court Martial Releases Top Police Officers in Kidnap Case

21 January 2020

Four police officers who have been in jail over kidnap of former bodyguard to Rwandan President were yesterday released on bail.

The General Court Martial at Makindye ordered the release of former commandant of Police Professional Standards Unit, Mr Joel Aguma, the Assistant Superintendent of Police, Mr James Magada, formerly attached to Police Flying Squad, and detective Corporal Amon Kwarisima, formerly attached to Crime Intelligence.

The court chaired by Lt Gen Andrew Gutti also ordered release of former Flying Squad commandant, Herbert Muhangi who was re-arrested last year, shortly after he had been released by court.

"Considering the relevant laws and the nature of the charges against the applicants/accused persons, the offences are bailable before this court. The sureties are substantial and they satisfactorily proved that they have fixed places of aboard," Gen Gutti said.

He also ordered that each of the accused persons' movement shall not go beyond Kampala and Wakiso districts during the bail period.

He released each of them on non-cash bail of Shs10m, each of their sureties executed a bond of Shs20m.

The suspects are supposed to report to the court registrar every fortnight and whenever required by court.

"Any breach of the conditions shall lead to automatic cancellation of the bail," Gen Gutti ruled.

Four of their colleagues remain on remand. They are Senior Superintendent of Police Nixon Karuhanga Agasirwe, Sgt Abel Tumukunde and SPC Faisal Katende, formerly attached to Flying Squad, and Assistant Inspector of Police Benon Atwebembeire.

The group was jointly charged with two others; a Rwandan Rene Rutagungira and a Congolese Bahati Pacifique Mugenga.

However, the army court released Rutagungira and Mugenga last week after the prosecution withdrew charges against them. The suspects were charged with unlawful possession of four grenades and kidnap of Joel Mutabazi, a former bodyguard to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, in 2013.

Mr Mutabazi was dubiously arrested in Uganda and extradited to Kigali where he was wanted by the State. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in Rwanda.

Prosecution case

The state alleges that on October 25, 2013, at Kamengo in Mpigi District on Masaka Road, Mr Aguma, Mr Agasirwe Karuhanga, Mr Magada, Mr Atwebembeire, Mr Tumukunde, Mr Katende, Kwarisima, Rutangungira and Mugenga while in unlawful possession of firearms and grenades, ordinarily a monopoly of the defence forces, conveyed Joel Mutabazi without his consent to Rwanda government.

It is further alleged that on the same day, the accused conveyed one Jackson Kalemera, alias Ndinga, to Rwanda. Mutabazi, a former lieutenant in Mr Kagame's presidential guard was kidnapped in Kampala in 2013 and handed over to his home government which sentenced him to life imprisonment. Lt Mutabazi had fled to Uganda to escape political persecution at home.

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