KAMPALA – Former Security Minister Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde will have to spend at least another month in prison after Buganda Road Court denied him again.
Gen Tumukunde, who was on March 18, arrested on charges of treason and illegal possession of weapons, appeared before the court via video conferencing from Luzira prison on Tuesday, April 14 to apply for bail.
In his own submissions before court, Gen Tumukunde protested what he called denial of his basic freedoms such as access to his doctor and lawyers while in prison.
His lawyers led by Alex Luganda insisted that the general be granted bail on grounds that he is a law abiding citizen and a presidential aspirant who needs time to consult.
However, the State prosecution insisted that he should not be released on bail because he will interfere with investigations and threaten national security.
Accordingly, the magistrate denied him bail, arguing that this is not possible in the current lockdown over coronavirus.
The magistrate then deferred the bail ruling to the end of lockdown, possibly at the end of April.
Prosecution states that that on 5th day of March 2020 at Impala Avenue Kololo in Kampala, Gen Tumukunde was found in possession a modified AK 47 rifle and a Star pistol without valid firearm certificates.
The state further alleges that while appearing on NBS Television, Tumukunde made utterances that if he was Rwanda, he would wish to cause change in Uganda.
But according to Richard Mugwisagye, the officer leading investigations in Tumukunde’s case, releasing the former security minister puts national stability at risk since he still has contacts within military circles.
“The applicant is charged with a very serious offence of treason contrary to section 23(2)(b) of the Penal Code Act cap 120 that attracts a maximum sentence of death and the likelihood of the applicant absconding to escape the punishment in the event of conviction is high,” the state says.
“The nature of offence for which the applicant is charged is critical to national security of Uganda and substantially affects diplomatic relations between Uganda and Rwanda. Investigations into the matter are in their infancy and they touch on relations with a foreign country as well as involve interviewing witnesses and visiting scenes,” Mr Mugwisagye adds in the documents filed before court.
The state adds that Gen Tumukunde was previously convicted by the General Court Martial in 2013 over offences related to harmful propaganda and hence his record is not good.
“The investigations into the matter require non-interference and given that the personnel in security have previously been answerable to the applicant in various capacities and the influential status he still wields, his release would be a great hindrance to the progress of investigations,” the state says.
Gen Tumukunde through his lawyers of Wameli and Company Advocates has asked court to grant him bail, saying he is a law abiding citizen and a presidential aspirant who needs time to consult.
“I am a presidential aspirant for the forthcoming general elections and have accordingly submitted my notifications to the Electoral Commission and I am in the process of commencing my countrywide consultations in preparations for the elections,” Tumukunde says in his affidavit.
“I am committed to attend court at all times if granted bail and I have substantial sureties who have undertaken and will ensure that I attend court at all times as required by this honorable court and abide by the terms.”