This article was added by the user . TheWorldNews is not responsible for the content of the platform.

Rwakafuuzi asks court to release re-arrested Kaweesi murder suspects

Some of the suspects in the murder of Kaweesi in 2019. Many have since been released

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Human rights lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi has asked the International Crimes Division of the High Court to order security agencies to release three rearrested suspects implicated in the murder of Andrew Felix Kaweesi, the former Police Spokesperson

Kaweesi was shot dead on March 17th, 2017 together with his bodyguard Kenneth Erau and driver Godfrey Mambewa in Kulambiro Nakawa Division in Kampala District. Following the murder, police arrested more than 50 suspects. However,  only 24 reached the courts of law after screening by the investigators.

The 24 suspects were charged before the Nakawa Chief Magistrates Court with terrorism, murder, aggravated robbery, aiding and abetting terrorism, and belonging to the rebel Allied Democratic Forces-ADF, a designated terror group.  But as investigations continued, only eight suspects were committed to face trial in the International Crimes Division of the High Court.

They are Abdulrashid Mbaziira, Hamza Higenyi, Shafiq Kasujja, Yusuf Mugerwa, Bruhan Balyejjusa, Joshua Kyambadde, Jibril Kalyango, Yusuf Nyanzi and Shafiq Kasujja. The remaining suspects kept reporting back at Nakawa Chief Magistrates Court since the prosecution had not yet completed investigations against them as individuals following their release on mandatory bail in 2018.

However, three of the suspects namely Swale Damulira, Sauda Ayub, and Hassan Tumusiime were allegedly re-arrested by state operatives. On Tuesday, when the case came up before the ICD for the reading of the charges before Lady Justice Alice Komuhangi Khaukha, Rwakafuuzi who had taken long without following up on the case, informed the pretrial Judge that three of his clients were arrested on Wednesday last week outside his gate in Makerere when they had gone to seek his Counsel.

Rwakafuuzi demanded to know the whereabouts of his clients, saying that he had not heard their names on the roll call Justice Komuhangi had read. In response, Justice Komuhangi who first crosschecked her records to see if she had omitted some names of suspects, said that documents in her possession do not show the suspects Rwakafuuzi was talking about, adding that those that she had read, are the ones that have been appearing before her, save for shafique Kasujja who is at large.

But Rwakafuuzi insisted saying he has been on the case since it started in 2017, and after the recent kidnap of his clients, Police Spokesperson Patrick Onyango said they were with sister agencies. The Judge informed Rwakafuuzi that she can’t deal with the case that wasn’t committed, adding that she doesn’t have jurisdiction over the matter. She told Rwakafuuzi that as a lawyer, he knows how to address the situation in case it’s true there was a re-arrest of his clients.

Feeling dissatisfied, Rwakafuuzi informed the Court that he had come to secure the release of the three rearrested suspects and ensure that the state doesn’t use them as witnesses against their co-accused. He asked the court to issue an order that the three suspects were kidnapped by the state, just in case the State intends to kidnap more suspects.

Komuhangi couldn’t have more of this citing lack of jurisdiction and asked the parties to proceed with the reading of the charges against eight suspects who have been going through pretrial before her.  However, before this could happen, lawyers and accused persons raised several preliminary objections that forced the case into a break to first harmonize the matters raised.

The lawyers complained of being new in the case, failure to be served with court documents, being hired on a private brief but now being appointed to represent accused persons such that they are paid by the government, and whether suspects were okay with it among others.

When all this seemed to have been solved, Higenyi, one of the suspects said when he was arrested, he was put in a safe house belonging to the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence -CMI from where he was reportedly tortured and regularly fed food containing sand. Higenyi told the court that as a result, he defecates blood-stained stool that is if he also succeeds to defecate.

He asked the court to order prisons to take him to Mulago National Referral Hospital for a scan to ascertain his condition, saying this case rotates on torture and it should be the first issue to be resolved before anything else.

Rwakafuuzi brought it to the attention of Justice Komuhangi that the retired Lady Justice Margret Oumo  Oguli awarded each of the suspects Shillings 80 million as compensation for the torture but to date, the government has not complied with the order. Justice Komuhangi said since there is a decision that was already made, she has nothing else to do but advised the lawyers to enforce the existing order.

She went on to read charges against the accused persons and asked the parties to put in written submissions regarding whether the court should confirm the charges as read to them or they shouldn’t be confirmed, based on the available evidence.  The available evidence includes statements of accused persons recorded at different police stations, witness statements from police officers, the vehicle in which the deceased persons were moving in, bullets recovered from the scene of the crime, projectiles, phones, sim cards, an AK 47, a Motorcycle, and stained clothes of the officers who were gunned down among others.

Komuhangi has now adjourned the matter to November 27th, 2023 for ruling if the parties agree to the timelines she has given them for filing submissions.