KAMPALA. Court in Kampala has dismissed the case in which former Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) party president Olara Otunnu was accused of defaming President Museveni.
Buganda Road Court grade one magistrate, Ms Joan Aciro dismissed the case on grounds that the prosecution had failed to produce sufficient evidence against Mr Otunnu.
"The only prosecution witness brought to court was Mr Gideon Tugume, a journalist working with Top Television. However, Mr Tugume who appeared in court once was never cross examined by the defence as was required in this case.
Prosecution was put on notice to bring him for cross examination but in vain. Prosecution failed to produce him therefore such testimony is of no value on court record," Ms Aciro said.
The trial magistrate also noted that Mr Tugume in his testimony had informed court that he captured Mr Otunnu making the defamatory statements against the president. However, he did not submit in court any recording to prove the allegations.
“Court can not only base on only witness’s allegations to convict someone,”Ms Aciro added.
After the court ruling, Mr Otunnu through his lawyer Mr Asuman Basalirwa said he would sue the government over malicious prosecution.
The case arose from Mr Otunnu’s January 16, 2013 press conference in which he allegedly questioned the deaths of what he called President Museveni’s allies since the Front for National Salvation’s (Fronasa) struggles to date, saying they should be investigated.
Prosecution had stated that on January 16, 2013 at UPC party headquarters at Uganda House, in Kampala, Mr Otunnu, with intent to defame President Museveni, allegedly caused a publication of a defamatory matter.
The said incidents include: atrocities in Luwero while Museveni commanded rebellious forces between 1981 and 1986; the massacres of Muslims in Ankole in 1979 when Museveni was commander of the Western Axis of anti-Amin forces composed mainly of his FRONASA contingent.
Others are; the massacre at Ombaci in West Nile in 1981; the scorched-earth counter-insurgency operations and genocide in northern and eastern Uganda between 1986 and 2006; and the wanton killing of unarmed demonstrators on the streets of Kampala, in September 2009.
Otunnu reportedly pointed out that a lot of disappearances and mysterious deaths had occurred under Museveni’s watch and authority since the Front for National Salvation’s (FRONASA) struggles to-date, saying they should be investigated.
His remarks prompted the Attorney General to write to the then UPC president giving him five days to make a public apology for his comments, or face legal action. Mr Otunnu has since declined to make any apologies.
The State further claimed that on February 28, 2013 without reasonable excuse, the UPC leader also ignored a police summon to appear before the Media Crime Department at CIID despite acknowledging receipt of the summon at a press conference he convened at Uganda House.