The High Court in Kampala has dismissed an application in which Robert Kyagulanyi’s singing partner, Ali Bukeni also known as Nubian Li , the head of his personal bodyguards Eddy Ssebufu also known as Eddie Mutwe and 34 other National Unity Platform supporters sought to stop trial by the army court.
The group that was arrested in Kalangala and later detained in Masaka was part of Kyagulanyi’s campaign team that was later transferred to the General Court Martial in Makindye and charged with unlawful possession of ammunition for being found with four AK47 rifle bullets in Makerere.
The group later ran to the Civil Division of the High Court in Kampala challenging the trial that they said was unlawful since they had already been charged by the Chief Magistrates court in Masaka.
However, on Tuesday afternoon, Justice Esta Nambayo ruled that there is nothing wrong with arraigning the group before the army court since the charges against them can be tried by the same court.
“The cases before the two courts is different. Civilians can be subject to military law and charged before the army court. Until section 119 of the UPDF Act 2005 is repealed, it will remain enforceable,”Nambayo said.
The judge ruled that because the charges that the group is facing are triable by the army court it is therefore legal for them to be arraigned before the same court.
“They have not produced evidence to prove that they were tried by a competent court in subject the charges at the General Court Martial in Makindye.”
In their application, the 36 National Unity Platform supporters accused the police and military of torturing them during and after the arrest.
They, therefore, wanted court to pronounce itself on the same but Justice Esta Nambayo ruled that there was no evidence to prove the allegations of torture as required by law.
“There is no medical report to confirm the allegations yet whoever wants court to dispense justice must prove those facts exist. They should have produced credible evidence.”
Whereas the 36 people presented their own affidavits and those of their relatives saying they had torture marks all over their bodies, the court ruled that such evidence was not enough to prove the allegations.
Detention beyond 48 hours
In their application, the group said they had been detained by police and the army beyond the mandatory 48 hours before being taken to court by basing on the evidence on the Masaka Regional Police Commander, Enock Abeine, the judge noted that having been arrested on December,30, 2020 which was a Wednesday and on January 1,2021, when the 48 hours would elapse was a public holiday, there were no other remedy to take them to court.
The judge ruled that the next days were weekends when courts don’t usually work and therefore the net convenient day was January,4, 2021 and that on this day there were taken to court.
Detention in military barracks
The group had accused government of violation of their rights when they were detained at Kasajjagirwa military barracks following their release.
However, reasoning with the Masaka RPC, justice Nambayo said since the group of 95 people was more than the number that could be accommodated in police cells at Masaka Central Police Station, it was only prudent that the remaining 14 suspects are detained in the military barracks.
“Kasajjagirwa not being a police detention centre doesn’t mean it is not allowed by law to detain civilians,” she said.
The judge also dismissed claims that the group had been denied access to their lawyers, next of kin and medical doctors while in detention.
Justice Esta Nambayo consequently dismissed the application without ordering for costs.
The accused who had run to the Civil Division of the High Court to challenge their trial by thr army court include Hassan Ssemakula alias Abdu Solider, Kenny Kyalimpa, Robinson Mudde Ntambi, Lukeman Mwijjukye alias Kampala, William Nyanzi alias Mboggo, Muhammad Nsubuga alias Edobozi, Ali Buken alias Nubian Li, Edward Ssebufu alias Eddie Mutwe, Adam Matovu, Shakira Namboozo alias Suki, Ibra Tamale, Muzafalu Mwanga alias Main Gate Muwa, Stanley Kafuko alias Kysta, Achileo Kivumbi, Geoffrey Onzima alias Tower, Anthony Agaba alias Bobi Young, Robert Kivumbi alias Mighty Family, Samson Ssebiranda alias Giant, Sharif Najja alias Don Sharif and Brain Ssemanda alias Dictator Museveni must go.
Others are Robert Katumba, Charles Mpanga, Geoffrey Mutalya, Geserwa Kyabagu alias Pympah, Baker Kalyango, Faisal Kigongo alias Ras Fazo, Musa Mulimira, Sam Mutumba alias Papa Sam, Richard Kalema alias Ricardo, Alex Karamagi alias Dog City Kadogo, Daniel Oyerwot alias Dan Magic, Hussein Mukasa alias Oshea, John Bosco Sunday alias JB, Isma Muganga alias Jaja Isma, Fahad Tamale and Bashir Murusha.
They are currently remanded at Kitalya government prison.