300 people to be tried in civilian courts

KAMPALA. The high court in Kampala yesterday ordered the 300 civilian suspects that are currently being tried in the Army court to be referred to civilian courts for trial.
The judge’s decision was prompted by the group through their lawyer Mr Ladislus Rwakafuzi after he successfully challenged their trial before the general court martial.
“For general court martial to have jurisdiction over civilians the state must establish a link between the accused and the UPDF act by stating that the weapon used or found in possession of the suspect are a monopoly to defense forces,” Justice Stephen Musota ruled.
Mr Rwakafuzi petitioned the High Court challenging their trial in the general court martial that it had no jurisdiction to try them and to release them on bail therefore their continued remand in Kigo and Luzira prison where illegal, unconstitutional and an abuse of court process which amounts to torture, cruel and degrading treatment.
He also asked court to either release the suspects or either takes them to competent jurisdiction.
However the judge declined to release the suspects citing that the offences against them are grave adding that releasing them would not serve the interest of justice without trial.

Among the group are Mosese Wokowu, Asuman Kitabusenze a special hire driver in Mbale, John Robert Erebu, and Patrick Okecha who have been facing charges of Murder, Robbery and unlawful possession of firearms.
Prosecution had objected to their release citing that under the UPDF act 119[h] the general court martial has powers to try offences under the said act and if a person subjected to military law if found in possession of a fire arm which he or she acquired illegal. Even if the charge sheet does not say the weapon used was a monopoly of the defence forces.jkigongo@ug.nationmedia.commailto:jkigongo@ug.nationmedia.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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