Justice Eva Luswata of the International Crimes Division of the High Court in Kampala has warned journalists against misreporting facts in the ongoing pretrial of former Allied Democratic Forces leader Jamil Mukulu and 38 others.
Mukulu, who was arrested in 2015 in Tanzania was indicted together with 38 others of offences related to terrorism, murder, attempted murder, aggravated robbery, aiding and abetting terrorism, crimes against humanity and belonging to a terrorist organisation stemming from his alleged involvement in rebel activities as the leader of ADF.
On Monday, the accused’s lawyers led by Caleb Alaka complained to court over the manner in which the media especially broadcast is relaying information in regards to the case.
“The manner in which media has been reporting on this case is wanting.We have evidence they are reporting beyond the subjudice rule and this is misrepresenting what is in court,”Alaka.
The lawyer argued that it is wrong to tag their client to the Kichwamba attack in which a number of students died after suspected rebels attacked the school and burnt its dormitories in 1998.
In response, Justice Luswata noted that journalists are allowed in court as a privilege for them to relay the proceedings to the members of the public who might not be in position to attend court.
“You owe a duty of correctly reporting the proceedings and to know that the accused should be treated as being innocent until they are proven guilty by the court,”Luswata said.
“You should not confuse the public because you undermine the trial or else I have powers to send you out of the case.”
Dr.Kiyingi scrapped off
The state also filed an application in which they sought to have Ugandan Australian based cardiologist Dr.Aggrey Kiyingi and two other accused including Sheikh Swaluhudin Baligeya and Muzafaru Kawule from the current charge sheet.
Earlier, the defence lawyers led by Alaka had raised concern over the whereabouts of the three people who appear on the charge sheet but are not in court to attend trial.
“You can’t have a trial in absence of the accused because the effect of this could be rendering the proceedings a nullity,”Alaka told the court.
However in response, the state prosecutors through Thomas Jatiko said they have issued arrest warrants for the two accused who are still at large.
“Dr.Kiyingi is outside the jurisdiction of this court and for the other two, it is a matter of police and security agents because arrest warrants were issued,”Jatiko said.
The Principal State Attorney told court they would be filing an application in which they would scrap the three accused people off the indictment due to their absence.
Justice Eva Luswata adjourned the matter to July 20.
Mukulu is accused of launching a rebellion when he formed ADF out of remnants of the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU), terrorising people in Western Uganda areas of Rwenzori leading to death of many.
Prosecution alleges that Mukulu masterminded the killing of various Muslim Sheikhs in Uganda between 2013 and 2015.