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Journalist charged with treason
Publish Date: Jun 16, 2009
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PATRICK Otim, a freelance journalist based in Pader, northern Uganda and 10 other men were yesterday charged with treason in a Kampala court.

Anne Mugisa reports that among them are two former LRA rebels who had been incorporated into the UPDF after they received amnesty.

The state said they formed a rebel group, the Popular Patriotic Front (PPF), and were recruiting people to fight the Government.

They allegedly mobilised logistical support for their rebellion, which included satellite phones, solar panels, Global Positioning System (GPS) machines, black polythene sheets, gum boots, walkie talkies, laptops and fire-arms.

The 11 suspects appeared before Buganda Road Court Magistrate Geoffrey Sayekwo but were not allowed to enter plea because the court did not have jurisdiction. They were unkempt.

Sayekwo read out the charges before sending them on remand to Luzira Prison. They face a second, alternative charge of concealing treason.

The suspects, according to the charge sheet, committed the offence between 2006 and May 2009 in eight districts, including Masindi and Kampala. The other districts are Gulu, Pader, Kitgum, Nebbi, Apac and Amuru.

Otim was arrested on June 8 along with four others, among them former LRA rebels Lt. Emmy Oryem and Lt. Philip Onekomon Okello, alias Kikoko (35) from Amuru district. Also arrested last week were Alfred Lubel Olanya (55), a prison warder and parish chief of Alokum in Gulu, and Francis Akena (31) a resident of Gulu prisons barracks.

Another suspect, Patrick Komakech (27), was arrested in Kampala in March. The other five were arrested in September 2008 from Murchison National Park in Masindi, where they reportedly had established a training camp.

According to the UPDF spokesperson, Maj. Felix Kulayigye, one submachine gun, one grand grenade and 10 bullets were recovered from the camp on the southern side of the River Nile.

Those arrested then were John Otim (31), described as a student from Gulu, Michael Obol (56) from Gulu municipality, Alex Okot Langwen (39), Patrick Okello (22) and Jimmy Oceng, alias Billy, described as a teacher from Masindi district.

The new rebel group, according to Kulayigye, was formed by Acholi in the diaspora with the help of local people in a bid to replace the LRA.

Earlier in the High Court, Justice Patrick Tabaro heard an application for the Government to produce Otim in court. The application was filed by his wife who complained that he was being held incommunicado.

The judge put on hold the hearing of this case after state attorney Godfrey Madete, told the court that Otim was due to appear in the court later that day.

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