Uganda court dismisses treason charges against Museveni rival

Free at last. Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye. 

Uganda's opposition Forum for Democratic Change President Kizza Besigye and 10 others have been cleared of treason charges.

Dr Besigye and the co-accused have been undergoing trial in various courts across the country.

They had in 2007 petitioned court to block their trial on treason charges.

On Tuesday, the Constitutional Court allowed the plea blocking the petitioners from being tried in High Court, General Court Marshall  including Bushenyi and Arua Magistrate Courts on allegations that they haboured intentions to overthrow Uganda Government using arms.

The Panel of five judges, led by Justice Alice Mpagi Bahigeine, unanimously ruled that the evidence adduced by Mr David Mpanga, the petitioners’ lawyer, had ‘mathematical accuracy’ because the ‘Black Mamba’ besieged High Court in 2005 and 2006 and rearrested his clients after being granted bail, disrespecting the court process.

Fair hearing

The other judges on the panel were George Engwau, Amos Twinomujuni, Constance Byamugisha and Augustine Nshimye.

The judges further contended that the trial of the suspects in various courts was inconsistent with the constitution arguing: “A person tried by a competent court shall not be tried by another court on the same charges. The right of fair hearing has to be adhered to.”

They said the Commissioner General of Prisons, Dr Johnson Byabashaija, disregarded the High Court’s summons to produce the petitioners in court even after several production warrants were issued to him to do so.

“The Commissioner General claimed he was consulting with the Solicitor General to find out whether he should comply with the court summons. Can trial tainted with all this kind of proceedings be fair,” the judges wondered.

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