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M7 condemns court scufflePublish Date: Mar 05, 2007
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By Fortunate Ahimbisibwe

PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has condemned the March 1 fracas at the High Court, saying an investigation would be conducted into the incident.

Museveni was yesterday addressing journalists at State House Nakasero about the re-arrest of the People’s Redemption Army (PRA) suspects after they were released on bail.

“What happened at the High Court is not what should have happened. What we shall do is to dissect the matter and look at what should have happened. We shall agree on a modus operandi so that such does not happen again,” he said.

Six PRA suspects were re-arrested at the court. The ensuing chaos prompted the judiciary to suspend court work countrywide.

Museveni said the Government would take corrective measures after establishing the facts on the incident. He said he had received reports from both the judiciary and the security organs.

“The judiciary objects to the manner in which this arrest was effected. It is possible that the Government lawyers and security officers could have over reacted in this process. The Government will investigate the matter and determine if there were breaches of the law or procedure in the process of re-arresting these suspects and if indeed there were breaches, it will take corrective measures,” Museveni said.

He defended the move to re-arrest the PRA suspects, whom he described as a security threat who might return to subversive activities if they were released.

“PRA suspects who have not applied for amnesty are assumed to be still committed to the PRA. Unless they renounce and abandon rebellion, there is a strong likelihood that they will go back to engage in their activities if they are released on bail,” Museveni said.

He added: “PRA was engaged in an armed war or armed rebellion against the Government but we demolished them. We live in a volatile region, some of our neighbors may not be in position to help us and arrest criminals when they disappear.”

He cited the DRC, where he said the LRA chief, Joseph Kony, has been staying but the government there has not been able to arrest him.

Museveni said 12 of the PRA suspects who applied for amnesty were released and all charges against them dropped by the state.

He said the Constitutional Court ruled that bail is not a mandatory constitutional right but a discretionary statutory matter upon satisfaction by court.

“Bail is not automatic. There must be exceptional circumstances to justify the grant of bail and that the applicant will not abscond when released on bail,” Museveni explained.

Before the press conference, Museveni met the Chief Justice, Benjamin Odoki, the deputy chief justice, Laetitia Kikonyogo, the speaker, Edward Ssekandi and the principal judge, James Ogoola.

“I call on the judiciary to continue doing their normal duties. The three arms of government have met and had consultations on the matter and agreed on what to do to prevent the re-occurrence of a similar incident.”

He added: “It was further agreed that a legal and transparent modus operandi for re-arresting the suspects released by the courts will be formulated and agreed on by the agencies involved in the administration of justice.”

He said the Government would continue respecting the principles of separation of powers, mainly the independence of the judiciary.

“It is not true that there has been breakdown of the rule of law in the country. I respect the judiciary. Mr. Besigye has taken me to court twice and I have respected the decision of the court. On one occasion, two of the judges said I was a thief — that I stole votes but the majority said Museveni is a clean man.”

The president later addressed an NRM caucus meeting, which was still going on by press time.

He said the Government was waiting for the determination of the criminal case against the PRA.

“The case has never been heard in court. Let the case be heard so that the courts can decide, and we shall go by what they decide. We hope this will be done expeditiously,” he said.

security minister Amama Mbabazi, national guidance and information minister Kirunda Kivejinja and the senior presidential adviser on the media, John Nagenda, attended the briefing.

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