KAMPALA – Former UPDF Commander turned oppositions politician Maj.Gen. (Rtd) Mugisha Muntu has described the bail terms slapped on former Security Minister, Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde as shameful, absurd and petty, and warned the Judiciary against surrendering their authority to the Executive, saying this would set bad precedent for the institution.
In a statement released on Thursday Gen. Muntu says the practice of having army officers to have sureties of equal or higher ranks isn’t a legal requirement, but an established practice based on logic that an officer of lower rank wouldn’t be able to compel a senior officer to adhere to court summons, but the practice has no standing in civilian courts.
“The Judiciary should feel ashamed that it had been dragged into such political schemes from which it is expected to be immune,” he said.
“I hope the Judiciary corrects this absurd precedent before it becomes a permanent stain on an institution whose very legitimacy is dependent on idea that justice must not only be done but seen to be done,” Gen. Muntu, who now runs opposition Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) said.
On Tuesday, High Court judge Wilson Kwesiga denied Gen. Tumukunde bail on grounds that the retired general didn’t furnish court with substantial sureties in consideration of his military background, who would compel him to return to court for trial.
Justice Kwesiga ruled, “I am not able to approve the sureties presented. At least, there should have been two military officers at his rank or even at a higher rank with a letter of introduction from the Chief of Defense Forces (CDF).”
Tumukunde’s surities included his wife Stella Tumukunde, FDC’s Vice President Salaam Musumba, and his brother Hannington Karuhanga, as well as Gen. Mugisha Muntu. In his ruling, Justice Kwesiga ordered Gen. Tumukunde to bring at least two military officers who are either at his rank or above his rank with a letter of introduction from their CDF if they are still serving officers.
The ruling has been widely criticized and Gen. Muntu describes it as petty, shameful and absurd.
“Left unchallenged the legal precedent will potentially affect all those who have served in uniform, whether retired or not. Their service to the country will keep hanging over them like a threat, leaving them with a sense that the powers that be, can choose to oppress you even in retirement on account of your time in uniform”.
Gen .Tumukunde was on March 18, arrested on charges of treason and illegal possession of weapons.
He has since been kept in jail and denied bail twice.