Olivia Lutaaya and 27 other NUP supporters denied bail again

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Olivia Lutaaya and 27 other NUP supporters denied bail again
Ms Olivia Lutaaya has been in detention for nearly three years now

Ms Lutaaya, 32, was arrested from her home in Namuwongo, a Kampala suburb, in 2021 and detained incommunicado for weeks before she was arraigned in the military court.

JUSTICE | The General Court Martial has rejected bail pleas of Olivia Lutaaya and 27 other political detainees affiliated with the Opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) party.

Ms Lutaaya, 32, was in 2021 violently arrested from her home in Namuwongo, a Kampala suburb, and detained incommunicado for weeks before she was arraigned in the military court.

"Olivia Lutaaya is 30. She is a young mother of two. She mobilised for NUP during the 2021 election. For that, she was abducted, beaten up, held incommunicado for weeks, and then arraigned before the military court. She is still in jail," Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, the NUP president, posted on X in October 2022.

Along with more than 30 others, Ms Lutaaya is being charged in the military court despite being a civilian contrary to the Constitutional Court decree.

Ms Lutaaya on Monday watched as four of her fellow detainees - all male - were granted temporary temporary freedom by the army court.

Ms Lutaaya's case has gained global attention and despite all the condemnation, freedom is the one thing that is fast looking like a mockery for her, her sympathisers say.

And on Monday, Brig Gen Robert Mugabe, chairman of the Court Martial in Makindye Military Barracks, confirmed as much when he again denied Ms Lutaaya her constitutional right to bail.

The applicants had filed a motion seeking bail under various legal provisions, including Articles 23(6) and 139(1) of the Constitution of Uganda 1995, and sections 14 of relevant laws.

They argued for their constitutional right to apply for bail, emphasising the bailable nature of the offense, their prolonged custody without a clear trial timeline, and the availability of reliable sureties.

 

However, the court martial dismissed the application, citing several reasons.

While acknowledging that the offenses were indeed bailable, the army court said the applicants had already spent a significant amount of time in custody and failed to establish fixed places of residence within the court's jurisdiction.

The army court also expressed concerns about the risk of the applicants absconding if granted bail.

The accused individuals are alleged to have been found in illegal possession of 13 pieces of explosive devices between November 2020 and May 2021 in areas of Jinja, Mbale, Kireka, Nakulabye, Kawempe, Natete, and Kampala Central.

This group is part of the 32 NUP supporters who made a second bail application in 2023.

However, only four out of the 32 were granted bail.

Ronald Mayiga, Richard Nyombi, Kenneth Kamya, and Shafique Ngobi were the four individuals granted bail because they had substantial sureties, fixed places of residence, and were unlikely to interfere with state witnesses or ongoing investigations, according to Brig Mugabe.

The prosecution, relying on the affidavit of Lt Elly Musinguzi, an investigator from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, opposed their release, arguing that the sureties provided were not substantial

. Brig Mugabe agreed with the prosecution in his ruling, stating that most of the sureties were not sufficient, and only the four applicants met the requirements for release.

Those denied bail alongside Ms Lutaaya on Monday include Yasin Ssekitoleko alias Machete, Robert Christopher Rugumayo, Patrick Mwase, Simon Kikaabe and Muhydin Kakooza.

Others are Abdu Matovu, Ronald Kijambo, Sharif Kalanzi, Joseph Muwonge, Mesach Kiwanuka, Abdalla Kintu, Umar Emma Kato, and Musa Kavuma.

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