Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Buganda Road Chief Magistrates Court has ordered the Director of Public Prosecutions to summon the witnesses they intend to rely on to prosecute Dr Kizza Besigye and Samuel Lubega Mukaaku on charges of inciting violence.
The order was issued on Thursday by Grade One Magistrate Winnie Nankya Jatiko when the matter came up for further hearing.
The Prosecution led by State Attorney Allan Mucunguzi told the Court that it didn’t have witnesses. Mucunguzi said the witnesses were police officers who were on special duties. He asked for an adjournment for three weeks. Besigye’s lawyers led by, Erias Lukwago opposed the application for adjournment.
Lukwago said there is a practice and a tendency in the criminal justice system by the Prosecution to come and say they are seeking adjournment without substantial grounds.
“Prosecution has not indicated that the police officers were summoned. Neither has he indicated that they have reasons as to why they are not here. The accused persons are responsible citizens who have serious commitments, and this is a matter that has dragged on for so long”, said Lukwago.
The State Attorney told the Court that the witnesses have been deployed in Non-Aligned Movement -NAM and G77 conferences.
“We believe these are substantial reasons to warrant adjournment. It’s not a habit for the Prosecution to seek blanket adjournments. We retaliate our submissions and pray for adjournment,” said Mucunguzi.
But Lukwago insisted saying that the submissions by the Prosecution were blatant lies saying, that NAM ended and it was presided over by General Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who on Saturday, January 20th, 2024 officially closed it.
According to Lukwago, everyone who has an interest in these conference matters saw it and therefore court shouldn’t be taken for a ride.
Lukwago who submitted amidst waves of laughter from the court audience that seemed to agree with him that NAM ended. Lukwago further said he doesn’t know if the police officers are the ones who submitted lies to the Prosecutor. He prayed that the submissions should be treated with the contempt they deserve.
Magistrate Nankya Jatiko said the court takes the fact that on 24 th October 2022, the last Prosecution witness came in that case.
She explained that this case has become part of the backlog in the court system and subsequently Court gave the Prosecution one last adjournment, to summon their witnesses, or else the court will force them to close their case.
She has also directed the Prosecution to serve and file an affidavit to show proof of service.
Trouble for Besigye and Mukaaku stems from their June 14th, 2022 protest against the skyrocketing prices of commodities in the country.
The Prosecution accuses them of staging an assembly at Kikuubo Shauriyako Parish in Kampala Central Division where they allegedly made statements indicating that it would be desirable to demonstrate, which was an act calculated to cause damage and destruction of property.
So far Prosecution witnesses who have testified in this case mainly Police Officers such as David Nahamya the head of Operations at Kampala Central Police Station say Besigye and Mukaaku’s actions caused commotion down town and business went on standstill.
In October 2022, Magistrate Muhumuza ordered the State to return Besigye’s vehicle which had been impounded. The vehicle is yet to be released to Besigye.
In June 2023, the same court presided over by Grade One Magistrate Siena Owomugisha dismissed similar charges against Besigye for want of Prosecution and set him free.
Addressing journalists after the Court session, Besigye said all these charges are framed against him just for political persecution because the state has always levied many charges against him including capital offenses such as rape and treason. But it has never succeeded in any.
He scoffed and mocked the State saying he has been accused many times but he has never defended himself anywhere as charges against him always suffer natural deaths.