KAMPALA Ã¢â‚¬â€� Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, the minister of Internal Affairs has explained his role in the escape of a rebel suspect, Dr. Gideon Rukundo.
Rukundo who was working at Mulago Hospital fled the country recently following a tip that the Chiefteinancy of Military Intelligence (CMI) was out to arrest him. See Doctor Flees Over PRA Rebel Drugs (Sunday Monitor, August 31).
The report stated that Rukundo, who with a colleague were accused of procuring and supplying drugs to the PeopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Redemption Army rebels had approached Ã¢â‚¬Å“a certain ministerÃ¢â‚¬Â� for help before he escaped.
In an interview on Thursday, Dr. Rugunda confirmed to The Monitor that indeed Rukundo contacted him.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have heard about this thing that I aided Rukundo to escape,Ã¢â‚¬Â� he said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Rukundo called me and said he wanted to speak to me. He said he had an urgent matter. I said I could see him [and] when he came he said people at CMI were looking for him so I called Mayombo.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I told him that thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a young doctor who says you want to arrest him. Mayombo said it was true and that Rukundo was required to answer some questions. We agreed that Rukundo reports to CMI and clear himself,Ã¢â‚¬Â� he said.
Rugunda explained that he knew Rukundo as a young boy, and that his intervention was not to stop the arrest or avert it but to help both the suspect and CMI.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I told him that he could not hide forever and I advised him to see Mayombo and solve his issues amicably. It was his chance to prove himself innocent,Ã¢â‚¬Â� Rugunda said.
He said the day Rukundo was to appear at CMI, he decided to run away and the next thing he heard, Rukundo was in Kigali.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know why he ran away if he knew he was innocent. But I wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t help him even if I knew he was guilty,Ã¢â‚¬Â� he said.
The Chief of Military Intelligence, Col. Noble Mayombo said that Rugunda contacted him in good faith.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ Naturally when someone gets a problem they run to their political leaders so Dr. Rukundo approached Dr. Rugunda who contacted me,Ã¢â‚¬Â� Mayombo said yesterday.
He also said he never told Dr. Rukundo that President Yoweri Museveni was the only person who could handle his case.
Museveni has linked PRA to three renegade UPDF officers - Lt. Col. Samson Mande, Lt. Col. Anthony Kyakabale and Col. Edison Muzoora.
RukundoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s colleague, the Principal Pharmacist at Mulago Private Wing, Dr. Lyeni Masereka was arrested on August 22 by plain clothed CMI operatives. He is still in detention.
The CMI has written to the Joint Anti Terrorism Squad (JAT) saying that a clinic in Kampala helped Rukundo to escape.
According to sources in JAT, Military Intelligence is concerned that Rukundo was working in a clinic handling security personnel.
Sources said the clinic is linked to a UPDF brigadier who recommended that ISO and CMI staff be treated at the clinic and not at Mulago Hospital as the case had been.
The allegations follow the arrest of Dr Aggrey Byamukama from Fort Portal Hospital who, during interrogation mentioned both Rukundo and Masereka.
Additional reporting by Emmanuel N. Mugarura