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Besigye charged, laments police cruelty to opposition

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Dr Besigye listens to proceedings at Buganda Road Court yesterday.

Dr Besigye listens to proceedings at Buganda Road Court yesterday. PHOTO BY ISAAC KASAMANI 

By ANTHONY WESAKA & BETTY NDAGIRE

Posted  Thursday, March 29  2012 at  00:00

In Summary

Observer journalist Siraj Lubwama was assaulted and detained at CPS and it took intervention of his colleagues to be freed.

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Forum for Democratic Change leader Kizza Besigye has warned the police that sooner, rather than later, the Force will pay for the cruelty meted out to the opposition.

He sounded the warning yesterday moments after he was charged and released on a non-cash bail of Shs20 million at Buganda Road Court.

The retired colonel was responding to the criminal summons issued against him on Monday. He is accused of managing an unlawful assembly that led to the death of Assistant Inspector of Police John Michael Ariong on March 21 in downtown Kampala. He denied the charges upon taking plea.

“Why are you torturing our people, which traffic offence has he committed?” a charged Besigye asked the police who were assaulting one of his supporters during a standoff with his supporters on which route to take back home.

Dr Besigye added: “You see the cruelty of the Uganda police; you will pay for this soon or later.” The opposition leader jointly appeared in court with Kawempe Division mayor Mubarak Munyagwa, FDC Women league leader Ingrid Turinawe and Kampala Woman legislator Nabilah Naggayi Ssempala.

They, too, denied the charges and were also released on a non-cash bail of Shs20 million each.

Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, who is among the group, did not show up in court as he was reportedly in South Africa on official duties. The trial Chief Magistrate, Ms Eleanor Khainza, released the accused after producing substantial sureties who were each bonded at Shs50 million not cash.

Dr Besigye’s sureties included Mr Nandala Mafabi, the leader of opposition in Parliament, Rubaga South MP John Ken Lukyamuzi, Mr Livingstone Kizito, the FDC Kampala chairman. As early as 7am, the heavily deployed riot police sealed off all the roads, restricting access to court.

During a standoff on which route Dr Besigye should take back home, a veteran journalist, Siraj Lubwama, of The Observer newspaper was assaulted by the police. His troubles began when Metropolitan Traffic Director Lawrence Nuwabiine approached him and demanded to know whom he was and why he was taking notes.

“I am a journalist,” replied Mr Lubwama as he pulled out his work identification card. However, Mr Nuwabiine beckoned his juniors who roughed up the journalist, carrying him in the air up to Central Police Station (CPS).

Saving journalist
It had to take collective intervention of fellow journalists in order for Mr Lubwama to be released. The ugly scene saw Mr Mafabi along with other politicians storming the police station.

At this time, the attention had turned to the arrested journalist not Besigye. Earlier, the police had to arrest MP Nabilah and Ms Turinawe as they attempted to walk from their respective homes to attend court.

Ms Turinawe was arrested as she approached Kasangati town and bundled into a police car and driven up to CPS and later to court. Their attempt to walk to court was as a result of an announcement made by the Chairman Inter party Cooperation Asuman Basalirwa on Tuesday.

Mr Basalirwa explained that the accused person’s cars were smashed by the police during the previous rallies organised by Activists for Change and had no means of transport to court.

The accused return to the court on April 17 for mention of their case.

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