KAMPALA – The case in which former Presidential Candidate retired Lt General Henry Tumukunde is charged with treason and illegal possession of firearms has been referred to High Court for investigation.
City Hall Senior Magistrate Valerian Tuhimbise on Wednesday evening delivered a ruling directing that the file be sent to High Court to investigate the allegations of human rights violation during Tumukunde arrest, detention in police custody and prison.
The court’s decision comes following a successful application made by Tumukunde’s lawyers led by Anthony Wameli challenging his trial on grounds that his fundamental human rights were violated during the arrest, detention in a police cell and when on remand in Luzira prison.
Wameli told the court that on March 12 2020, his client was arrested during late hours in the night without any explanation, detained for six days in police custody without trial and even when he was charged and remanded to Luzira prison, he was put under solitary confinement. As such, he asked that the proceedings before the magistrate’s court be stayed and file sent to the High Court for appropriate action.
However, in response, the Prosecution relied on two affidavits filed by the Assistant Commissioner of Police Isaac Oketcho and the Assistant Commissioner of prisons Moses Ssentalo who opposed the application.
These denied the allegations and told the court in their affidavit that when Tumukunde was arrested, he was treated in respect and dignified manner given his status and was informed of the reason for his arrest.
They added that Tumukunde was neither tortured nor treated in a degrading manner.
The Commissioners further noted that the delay to take Tumukunde to court was justified as he developed medical complications two days after his arrest and as such, they had to wait for his health to improve before taking him to court.
On the issue of solitary confinement, the Assistant Commissioner of Prisons Ssentalo testified that Tumukunde was admitted in prison during the Covid -19 pandemic and all new inmates were being kept separately. Ssentalo added that Tumukunde was allowed to interact with other inmates and to access TV for news and other programs.
However, in his ruling, the Magistrate said Tumukunde’s allegations raise issues of human rights violation which need to be determined before his trial can proceed.
He accordingly forwarded his case to the High Court for further management. Tuhimbise also stayed criminal proceedings Tumukunde concerning the offence of treason and illegal possession of firearm pending High Court decision.
In her ruling, the magistrate ordered Tumukunde to report monthly to City Hall Court for an update on the progress of the matter in the High Court.
The prosecution alleges that in March 2020, while at his office at Impala Avenue in Kololo, Tumukunde was found in illegal possession of 2 guns namely; an Ak47 and a pistol plus 34 rounds of ammunition without a valid firearm license.
The evidence before the court indicates that the said charges were read to Tumukunde on March 18 2020, after spending six days of incarceration without access to his doctors, lawyers and family.
For the treason case, the prosecution alleges that while appearing at NBS TV in Kamwokya, Tumukunde is made statements that were aiming at promoting hatred, violence and encouraging the neighbouring Rwanda government to support him to overthrow the current Government.
It is alleged that this particular offence was committed on March 5, 2020, by Tumukunde who lost the recent presidential elections to his former boss General Yoweri Museveni.
But Tumukunde has since denied both charges and he is out on bail.