KAMPALA- Demonstrations in protest of the scheduled trial of the Inspector General of Police Gen. Kale Kayihura, clouded Makindye Chief Magistrates’ court on Wednesday.
Supporters of Gen. Kayihura stormed the court in big numbers, carrying placards with inscriptions that opposed his scheduled court appearance.
Some of the placards read: ‘Gen Kayihura Talina Musango’, ‘Uganda Police Force Equals People’s Force’, Police needs justice not injustice’.
The unruly supporters chanted and ran round the court premises with some closing the door to the chambers of the Chief Magistrate Richard Mafabi, a move some observers interpreted as effort to intimidate the magistrate from convening and hearing the case.
All the anarchy was progressed as police officers deployed at the court premises looked on. At some moments, however, as the situation appeared to run out of hand, some officers could plead with Gen. Kayihura supporters to be orderly.
As this chaos was raging, a crisis meeting was held in the chambers of the Chief Magistrate between the private prosecutors, representatives of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions and Mr Mafabi, the Chief Magistrate.
Minutes later, court convened at 10 am in the public court.
To that effect, a host of private prosecutors led by Mr Nicholas Opiyo, Mr Daniel Walyemera and Mr Abdullah Kiwanuka asked court to reject the DPP’s letter in which he had written to court, seeking to take over the prosecution of Gen Kayihura’s case as mandated under Article 120 of the Constitution.
The group of lawyers argued that despite the DPP being constitutionally mandated to take over the private prosecution of criminal cases, a proper procedure of formally applying to court should have been be done.
Mr Mafabi concurred with the submissions of the private lawyers and ordered the DPP to formally apply to the court before he can formally take Gen. Kayihura’s proceedings.
“Before this court allows the DPP to take over the case, I agree with the counsel for the complainants that a formal application is needed in court by the DPP. Nevertheless, because of the strong mandate granted to the DPP under Article 120 of the Constitution to be in control of criminal proceedings in this country, this court will allow the DPP to formally file his application for consideration on whether or not to be allowed to takeover this matter..” Mr Mafabi ruled.
He adjourned the case to August 29 to allow the DPPs application.
During the proceedings, the private lawyers wanted court to issue criminal summons for Gen. Kayihura and half a dozen of his co-accused officers for not showing up in court and failing to explain why.
The lawyers argued that Gen. Kayihura and his co-accused officers were duly served personally and even in the media by way of substitute service and that there was no need for them to dodge court.
“ All the accused persons were formally served and affidavit of service is on the court record. Your honour, the accused persons have neither offered any explanation for their absence nor sent legal representatives. In the premises we seek the direction of the court that adjourning the case without addressing the absence of accused persons will not go well with justice. In the alternative, we pray for fresh criminal summons against the accused persons..” Mr Opiyo said.
But in his ruling, Mr Mafabi said he would pronounce himself on this issue of non appearance in court by Gen. Kayihura on August 29 when the court convenes.
The other senior officers that were expected in court alongside Gen Kayihura are; Mr Andrew Kaggwa (former Kampala South Regional commander), Mr James Ruhweza (former head of operations, Kampala Metropolitan), Mr Samuel Bamuziibire, (former Kampala Metropolitan Field Force Unit commander), Mr Patrick Muhumuza, (former operations commander of Field Force Unit, Kampala Metropolitan South), Mr Wesley Nganizi, (former Regional police commander, Kampala North), mr Geoffrey Kaheebwa (former Deputy Regional Police Commander, Kampala South) and Mr Moses Nanoka (former Wandegeya Division police commander).
The lawyers in the charge sheet, allege that Gen. Kayihura and his aforementioned senior officers and other police commanders still at large, being superior officers of the Uganda Police Force, in various places in and around Kampala, between 2011 and 2016 but most notably on 13/07/2016 and 14/07/2016, are liable for acts of torture committed against Joseph Kaddu, Andrew Ssebitosi, Rogers Ddiba, and other members of the general public including boda boda riders and supporters of Dr Besigye.
The notable police brutality happened on July 13 as police officers under the command of Mr Kaggwa, encircled Dr Besigye’s supporters at Busaabala Road junction off Entebbe Road and clobbered them mercilessly with boda boda riders being the most affected.
But the complainants have since denied being beaten by the police and have also accused the private lawyers of bribing them in order to implicate Gen Kayihura.
They also snubbed court proceedings with court asking for their whereabouts in vain.
The lawyers prosecuting this case in response to the whereabouts of the complainants, told court that they were living under immense fear as some people were threatening them and that could have been the reason for their non appearance.