Court acquits Besigye of walk to work charges

Opposition Leader Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye jubilating with his supporters outside the Kasangati Magistrates' Court Tuesday August 9, 2011 shortly after he was cleared of all the walk to work offences. PHOTO BY ISAAC KASAMANI


Kasangati Court has this morning acquitted and discharged the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) leader, Kizza Besigye of the charges related to walk to work without defending himself. The charges included ; rioting after proclamation, incitement to violence, and disobeying lawful orders of a traffic police officer.

While giving his ruling, the presiding magistrate George Watyekere concurred with the defense lawyer, David Mpanga’s submissions that prosecution had failed to adduce evidence to back the allegations pinned against his client and such could not necessitate him to defend himself.

“it’s the finding of this court that a prima facie case has not been made against the accused person on the available evidence to require him to defend himself. A tribunal directing itself to the law like the one presided over by me cannot convict the accused if no explanation is given in his defense,” ruled Magistrate Watyekere.

In April this year, Dr Besigye joined other opposition protests to urge government action on the rising cost of living particularly food and fuel. A pressure group Activists for Change (A4C) called the protests that required participants to “Walk to Work” or Walk to Church.

Government reacted strongly deploying hundreds of heavily armed police and other security agencies to block the walkers, many were violently arrested including Dr Besigye while at least five people died as a result of the disturbances while several hundred were injured or arrested.

Earlier last month, the Director of Public Prosecution (DDP) dropped charges of incitement to violence against Dr. Besigye. Ms Gladys Nyanzi represented the State and was advised to appeal in unsatisfied with the ruling.

A visibly relieved Besigye said government was wasting both time and tax payers money in opursuing cases against it political opponents well knowing that they cannot successfully prosecute them, he said reffering to previous charges of rape and treason which all collapsed. “ I have been dragged to court and charged with various offence ranging from criminal to traffic offences but in all, prosecution has never made a prima facie case against me including the rape one requiring me to defend myself,” he said.

There was excitement in Kasangati trading center soon after the ruling as his supporters surrounded his car while shouting and flashing the party’s V sign. The anti-riot police that had deployed around the court premises swung into action to disperse the supporters. Besigye later drove into town.
Present at court was his sister, Dr Olive Kobusigye.