By Michael Odeng and Damali Kisakye
Hearing of a case in which the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) party president, Dr. Olara Otunnu, is charged with defaming President Yoweri Museveni is slated for May 2.
Otunnu Tuesday appeared before Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s court to answer charges of defamation and ignoring police summons over the matter.
Grade I Magistrate Araali Muhiirwa will preside over the case while lawyer Nicolas Opio will defend the suspect.
Prosecution alleges that on January 16, 2013 while at the UPC party headquarters at Uganda House, Otunnu with intent to defame President Museveni allegedly made defamatory remarks.
He denied the charges in the first court appearance and was released on sh20m cash bond.
The UPC president’s troubles stem from a press conference he addressed pointing out several major episodes of atrocities and crimes at times when Museveni was in command.
These episodes include: atrocities in Luwero while General Museveni commanded an insurgent force between 1981 and 1986; the massacres of Muslims in Ankole in 1979, when General Museveni was commander of the Western Axis of anti-Amin forces, composed mainly of his FRONASA contingent.
Others include the massacre at Ombaci, in West Nile, in 1981; the scorched-earth counter-insurgency operations and genocide in northern and eastern Uganda between 1986 and 2006; and the wanton killing of unarmed demonstrators on the streets of Kampala, in September 2009.
He allegedly pointed out that a lot of disappearances and mysterious deaths had occurred under Museveni’s watch and authority since the Front for National Salvation’s (FRONASA) struggles to date, saying they should be investigated.
This prompted the Attorney General to write to the UPC president giving him five days to make a public apology for his remarks or face legal action. Otunnu has since then refused to make any apologies for his statement.
The State further claims that on February 28, 2013 without reasonable excuse, Otunnu also ignored a Police summon to appear before the Media Crime Department at CIID despite acknowledging receipt of the summons at a press conference he convened at Uganda House.
Meanwhile, the case in which he is charged with disobeying police summons was adjourned to May 2, 2014 for mention and query into the status of investigation.
John Michael Odeng