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Muhwezi wants to stay in jail

By Vision Reporter

Added 29th May 2007 03:00 AM

FORMER health minister Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi yesterday said he preferred to stay on remand in Luzira Prisons.

By Fortunate Ahimbisibwe

FORMER health minister Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi yesterday said he preferred to stay on remand in Luzira Prisons.

He told friends who advised him to apply for bail and “get out of this place” that he was not in a hurry.

“Right now I am not thinking about bail. I am not in a hurry to do anything. If I wanted bail, my lawyers would have started on Monday but I have decided that I should give myself time,” he said.

Muhwezi, who was in a jovial mood, added that he had faith in the legal system and was confident that he would be cleared. “The truth will come out very soon,” he kept telling his supporters as he smiled.

“I will shame those people who have been following me. They are spreading all sorts of rumours. But I want to assure my supporters and friends that I am alright. I came back on my own because I knew there was nothing to hide.”

Muhwezi flew to the UK for “a medical check” last Monday, a day before he was to be arrested. He surprised many when he presented himself to the Police a week later.

Yesterday, he told friends that the manner in which his home in Kololo was raided by the Police was not diplomatic and vowed that he would raise the matter with the relevant authorities.

“How are we going to criticise the past regimes when we are doing the same things they were doing? That is why we fought them,” he stressed.

He said he would not quit the Movement but work from within. “Definitely, what we have now is not our old Movement. But I will not quit NRM. If there is anything to be done, it can only be done from within. I think we need to strengthen our institutions.”

Muhwezi, who is also the MP for Rujumbura county, assured his visitors that he was okay. He also told them this reminded him of Nelson Mandela’s time at Robben Island where he spent 27 years. “Mandela is my hero,” he added.

His friends joked that he was enjoying the lake view. “And I know where you live. You don’t have a lake view. Here, you can look at the lake all day long.”

Muhwezi met all his guests in the office of the officer in charge of Murchison Bay. His wife, Susan, had been with him early in the morning.

Those who came were asked to sign his visitors’ book. They included President Yoweri Museveni’s daughter, Natasha Karugire, former Secretary General of the East African Community, Amanya Mushega, Col. Fred Mwesigye, the director of the National Enterprise Corporation, one of the first 27 NRA fighters, state minister for works John Byabagambi, as well as MPs Robert Kashaija and Winfred Matsiko.

Others who turned up were MPs Beatrice Rwakimaari (Ntungamo), Charles Ngabirano (Rwampara) and Mrs. Kasami, the wife of the permanent secretary of the finance ministry.

Many supporters from his constituency were not allowed to see him because they came after 4:00pm.

“He has been receiving visitors since morning and he is exhausted,” said his political assistant, Emmy Ngabirano.

Muhwezi, along with his former deputy ministers and a State House official, are charged with embezzlement and abuse of office in connection with immunisation funds. His colleagues were charged, remanded and granted bail.

Other sources said Muhwezi was sharing a cell with 13 other inmates and was not receiving special attention, although he was allowed to bring his own mattress and a blanket.

Information minister Kirunda Kivejinja yesterday denied allegations that the Government was persecuting Muhwezi.

“In fact, the current situation will enable him to clear his name. So, let’s wait and see how things develop,” he told the press at a briefing at the Media Centre.

Kivejinja also said Muhwezi was not being given preferential treatment.

Muhwezi wants to stay in jail

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