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Phone passwords delay Bobi Wine treason case investigations

By Arnest Tumwesige, Dennis Ojwee

Added 14th March 2019 08:59 PM

“Efforts by forensic department to press the owners to provide passwords have been futile. It has caused a delay into the completion of the work,” Lasumbu told court throwing the congregation into laughter.

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Mps Gerald Karuhanga(extreme left) Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) (in blue suit) Francis Zake (in pick attire) and other treason suspects appearing before the Grade one Magistrate in Gulu

“Efforts by forensic department to press the owners to provide passwords have been futile. It has caused a delay into the completion of the work,” Lasumbu told court throwing the congregation into laughter.

PIC: Mps Gerald Karuhanga(extreme left) Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) (in blue suit) Francis Zake (in pick attire) and other treason suspects appearing before the Grade one Magistrate in Gulu. (Photo by Dennis Ojwee)

ARUA- Investigation into the treason case against Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine and 35 others has delayed due to refusal by the accused to reveal the passwords of their phones seized by Police.

During the mention of the case presided over by Isaac Kintu Imoran the Grade I magistrate, Davis Lusambu, the officer in charge Criminal Investigation Department  (CID) of Arua told court that the properties belonging to the accused persons are in two categories that is; those being treated as exhibits and those treated as an Acknowledgement of Persons/Suspect’s Property (APP).

Lusambu added that items like phones, Ipads and motor vehicles are some of the exhibits that are in police custody to help in the investigations.

Lusamba said all the phones are being treated as exhibits and are under the forensics department for analysis.

He however noted that progress into their investigations is being delayed due to the fact that most of the phones have passwords that are only known by the owners.

“Efforts by forensic department to press the owners to provide passwords have been futile. It has caused a delay into the completion of the work,” Lasumbu told court throwing the congregation into laughter.

Meanwhile he also said most of the APP’s have been handed back except the mobile phones.

In a similar submission, Herbert Wanyoto the West Nile Regional CID said Police has 20 mobile phones in custody but they have found it difficult to continue with investigations.

“In the sense that the accused persons are uncooperative by way of volunteering their passwords or thumb prints, it is in the interest of justice that this court compel the concerned persons avail those passwords to the Police for the success of the investigation,” Wanyoto requested court.

In response, Tonny Kitara the defence counsel rejected the plea adding that the accused persons are by law protected not do self-incrimination.

Status of other properties

The regional police CID also told court that vehicles registration number UAX 354E land cruiser belonging to Ariko Herbert the MP Soroti municipality which was in possession of Gerald Karuhanga was returned back.

Meanwhile Lusambu had earlier told court that a grader UAP 064R and UAT 416K Toyota Tundra pickup are in police custody but the owners are not among the accused.

Other cars whose owners are in court are; UAW 207A a land cruiser and UAU 918N Toyota Kulger. However, a pistol Number D4627 with 12 rounds of ammunition whose owner was also in court is on a different case.

In what seem to have puzzled the defence team, Counsel Fredrick Ronald Kalule said that the submission by the two police officers was by far lacking a lot of property for his clients.

These include; money, knickers, pads, wedding rings, car keys and shoes and therefore asked court to intervene and order for their return.

Police accused of using phones

In what seemed to be unsatisfactory explanation from Police about the phone’s, Shiraj Nalunga Rashida also a defence counsel told court that Police is rather playing tricks.

Nalunga added that the same Police use phones of some accused persons to call their spouses, friends and issuing them with threats. She cited an example where Hon. Kyagulanyi’s phone was used to call the wife and friends.

The police officers appeared in court following the court order that Arua and Gulu district CID explain that the state of the properties of the accused persons.

Ronald Were the former Gulu district CID boss who did not have a lot to explain, told court that when he interacted with the accused persons, they did have their belongings after being transferred from Arua.

Defence ask court to refer the case

Earlier during the start of the mention the defence team submitted that many of their clients were heavily tortured and requested the magistrate to allow some sit which request was granted.

Referring the court to the Ruling of the Constitutional court on case of Dr. Kizza Besigye Vs the Attorney General of 2007, No.7, Tonny Kitara, the defence Counsel said the accused in the case was severely tortured and his rights were grossly violated but was later exonerated.

Kitara who also submitted a copy of the ruling prayed to court to dismiss/discontinue the trail against all the accused persons, in the unlikely event that court does not dismiss the case, the court rather stay all the proceeding and refer to the constitutional court or court stay the proceedings in the case to give time to petition constitutional court challenge the proceedings.

State rejects plea by defence

Julius Ocen the prosecutor said while it’s true citizens should claim for their rights and freedoms provided for by the constitution, it should be noted that the citizens have duties to respect the constitution.

Ocen added that state organs cannot just sit and watch citizens as they go on rampage. On other note, the prosecutor told court that investigations into the matter are almost complete.

He said the delay had been caused by the absence of A36 (Hon. Francis Zake the MP Mityana municipality).

Police given orders, criminal summons issued       

The mentioning that started at about 9:50am and concluded at 12:00pm was adjourned by Kintu to July 4, 2019. Meanwhile, defence similarly raised a prayer that court needed to discharge those accused-persons from returning to court quite often because it had become expensive for them to do so.

The court issued warrant of arrest to two treason suspects, Gamaba Timusiime and Atuku Shaban because they and even their sureties were also absent without any reason given to court by defence.

Kintu also promised to consult widely before coming out with a ruling on the plea made by Counsel Kitara to have the case discontinued or be referred to the constitutional court.

After noting that Police had submitted sketchy documents on how they had returned some of the properties to the accused persons, the magistrate ordered Police to reappear in the next hearing with a detailed list regarding the matter.

Case background

A total of 36 suspects are facing Treason charge after being accused of throwing stones at the Presidential motorcade in Arua municipality. This was during the climax of the Municipal MP By-election campaigns where the team of Kassiano Wadri clashed with that of the President in the evening.

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