Prosecutors stuck with Besigye’s treason case

Monday January 7 2019

In the dock. Former presidential candidate

In the dock. Former presidential candidate Kizza Besigye consults one of his lawyers while appearing before the High Court to answer treason charges in July, 2016. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA 

By ANTHONY WESAKA

Kampala.

In June 2017, former four-time presidential candidate Col Dr Kizza Besigye for the second time vowed never to return to Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s Court to answer treason charges where he is accused of swearing-in himself as president after the contested 2016 elections.
Dr Besigye reasoned that since the State was taking forever to conclude investigations into the treason case, the endless court appearances without the trial were wasting his time and money and that he would not subject himself to such injustice any more.

In further defence of his defiance to return to Nakawa court, Dr Besigye explained that the same court was not going to try him due to lack of jurisdiction and therefore there was no need for him to continue wasting time reporting there.
“As you know, this matter has been going on for over eight months and it has extremely constrained me coming to this court and the investigations are continuing without any end. It’s costly both in time and resources moving to this court over charges that are not going anywhere,” Dr Besigye vowed at his last court appearance in 2017.

“I will respectfully want to inform this court that I will not come back to this court. When investigations are done they can inform me. I will only come back to this court as a prisoner if they choose to arrest me but I will not come back myself,” he added.
Col Besigye, a 1981-85 Bush War veteran and former physician to the then rebel leader now President Museveni, has since last stuck to his vows never to return to the magistrate’s court until the State is ready for his trial.

“That matter is still under investigation and he (Dr Besigye) has never been committed to the High Court to stand trial. The accused also has not been coming to court for some time,” Mr Solomon Muyita, Senior Communications Officer of the Judiciary, confirmed at the weekend.
At that time, the Director of Public Prosecutions had warned Dr Besigye that he would be arrested if he absconded from court.
He has skipped many court appearances and his next appearance is expected on February 7, 2019.

Yet Besigye has not been arrested for absconding from court. Why?
Mr Muyita told Daily Monitor that the case file does not show that the State has served Dr Besigye with criminal summons requiring him to appear in court. He further said the state prosecution has also not applied for a warrant of arrest against Besigye.
“As court, we can’t move ourselves to make certain decisions,” Mr Muyita explained.
Daily Monitor understands that since Col. Besigye was granted bail by the High Court, the lower court at Nakawa cannot cancel the decision of the superior court and arrest him.

The former president of opposition Forum for Democratic Change party (FDC) has always challenged the prosecution what more evidence they need to try him since he already admitted he swore himself in because he won the 2016 presidential polls with 52 per cent.
When contacted at the weekend, Ms Irene Nakimbugwe, the DPP deputy spokesperson, explained that Besigye’s treason file came to court once and that it was sent back to police for further investigations and it has not been retuned since.

“That file came once to us and the investigations were incomplete. Subsequently, it was sent back to the police for further inquiries. Criminal summons were issued against him though the file is still with the police,” Ms Nakimbugwe explained at the weekend.
When this newspaper contacted Mr Vincent Ssekate, the CID spokesperson, on why the police have taken close to three years without concluding the investigations into Besigye’s treason case, he instead passed the buck to the DPP.

“The file was forwarded to the office of the DPP and the same was sanctioned. When the file is sanctioned, our role as police stops there,” Mr Ssekate told Daily Monitor at the weekend.
“So if the State has up to now not committed the suspect [Dr Besigye] to the High Court to stand trial, then they should explain why but not us the police,” he added.
In an earlier interview with Daily Monitor about a year ago, Justice Mike Chibita, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), attributed the delay in concluding the treason investigations to uncooperative witnesses who allegedly attended Besigye’s swearing-in but refused to record statements with police.

The treason charges against Dr Besigye arise from the alleged swearing-in of himself as president of Uganda following the 2016 disputed presidential elections which he claims to have won.
The video clip of the alleged swearing-in went viral on social media in May 11 2016 on the eve of President Museveni’s swearing-in for the fifth elective term at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds.
Besigye was first charged with treason in far eastern district of Moroto before he was transferred to Nakawa court in Kampala and charged afresh.

awesaka@ug.nationmedia.com

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