KAMPALA - Two Ugandan men who sneaked piglets into parliament to protest against corruption have been sent to prison awaiting trial, and the animals impounded as evidence, relatives said Friday.
"At the court the magistrate read to them three charges of criminal trespass, conspiracy to sneak piglets into parliament and a third charge of interrupting parliament work," Richard Sebuliba, a relative of one of the men, told AFP.
Officials said the protestors had written slogans insulting MPs as corrupt on the animals.
"They have been sent on remand," deputy Police spokesperson Polly Namaye confirmed.
The pair, Robert Mayanja and Norman Tumuhimbise, are members of a protest movement calling themselves the "jobless brotherhood group".
The piglets were taken into police custody, police spokesman, Fred Enanga told the AFP on Thursday.
But another member of the "jobless brotherhood", Jackson Tusingwire said the piglets had since been transferred from a police veterinary unit to a holding facility, as part of evidence to be used in court.
Eyewitnesses said the animals had been daubed with the word "MPigs".
The men have been critical on the degree of spending of Ugandan MPs
The unemployed men were protesting at what they said was corruption and extravagant spending by lawmakers.
Uganda has been the subject of frequent criticism from foreign donors over allegations of rampant corruption, although protests in the country by Ugandans are rare.
Earlier this year MPs caused a storm after it emerged they had demanded a massive raise in their salaries, already 60 times higher than most state employees, and that the country's chief auditor had complained deputies had failed to account for millions of dollars of expenses.
Sebuliba, a relative of Mayanja, who was at the court in Kampala, said the family was "trying to ensure they are produced in court as soon as possible to secure their release."
The pair are next due in court on July 4 for a bail hearing.
Meanwhile, the Police are set to carry out forensic tests to ascertain whether the two piglets that were sneaked into Parliament’s parking yard were free of terrorism-related materials.
According to the Police who are currently investigating the matter, the two men allegedly behind the act could have been driven by a different agenda other than demonstrating against graft and unemployment.
“Even if their aim was to embarrass MPs and Parliament, they could be other motives,” spokeswoman Polly Namaye said, adding: “We want to see whether these pigs do not contain any terrorism material.”
The Tuesday incident caused a stir, with a number of Police officers being asked to record statements.
Police’s Namaye told New Vision on Thursday that the Police were keeping the piglets at the Central Police Station Kampala, adding that they would soon take them for a forensic test.
Deputy Police spokesperson Polly Namaye says the men could have had other motives
She revealed that five Police officers who were manning the gate where the suspects passed are under detention. Preliminary investigations indicate that those who sneaked the piglets used Parliament’s south wing gate.
“We are still holding these seven suspects and are not taking anything for granted,” she said.
It is understood that the police were still investigating to ascertain how the piglets were smuggled in without the knowledge of the Police. Although there is heightened security at Parliament following the incident, authorities at Parliament have been reticent about the matter.
Police honchos at Parliament and Parliament publicist Helen Kawesa referred all inquiries about the matter to Police spokesperson Fred Enanga.
Sergeant-at-arms Ahmed Kagoye said matters pertaining to security at Parliament are the domain of the parliamentary Police.
“Contact Police at Parliament. I am no longer in charge of security at Parliament,” he said.
Kawesa declined to comment on the matter saying: “Wait for the Police report about the matter.”
Enanga has since confirmed that heads are set to roll as disciplinary proceedings over what he describes as “neglect of duty” get instituted against some Police officers upon the completion of investigations.
Some MPs speculated that the incident may have been stage-managed by other security agencies bent on discrediting the Police so they can come to offer security.
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