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Court issues criminal summons against Besigye again

By Michael Odeng

Added 10th July 2019 06:39 PM

Court documents indicate that the former FDC president has never returned to court since 2018 to answer to treason charges

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Court documents indicate that the former FDC president has never returned to court since 2018 to answer to treason charges

Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s Court has again issued criminal summons for former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) president, Dr Kiiza Besigye, to face charges of treason.

The summons followed submissions by state attorney Christine Apolot, who asked the court, presided over by grade one magistrate Romans Ponsiano Odwori to issue it, arguing that Besigye had evaded court on several occasions.

“Your worship, the accused is not in court and I pray that criminal summons against him be extended,” she requested on Wednesday morning.

Court documents indicate that Besigye has never returned to court since 2018 to answer to the charges. Neither Besigye nor his lawyer Ernest Kalibala was in court.

Procedurally, when court issues summons, the state serves it to the accused and later informs the court whether he defied it or not.

The state prosecutor also informed the court that investigations in the matter are still ongoing.

The magistrate issued criminal summons against Besigye and adjourned the case to September 2, 2019, for mention.

The prosecution alleges that Besigye between February 18 and May 11, planned to forcefully ascend to the Office of the President when he declared himself the elected president of Uganda.

Besigye is also accused of inciting residents to defy lawful orders to attend his illegal swearing-in ceremony in a non-specified place with the intention of overthrowing the government.

According to DPP, the act is against the legal prescribed processes through which one can ascend himself into the Office of the President.

The case arose when Besigye contested the outcome of the February 18 presidential election in which he emerged runner-up.

Currently, Besigye reports to the criminal registrar of the High Court in Kampala twice a month for the renewal of his bail application.

Constitutional petition

On January 30, 2018, Besigye filed a constitutional petition challenging section 23 (2) (a) of the Penal Code Act (PCA) under which the charge of treason was brought against him, contending that it contravenes Article 28 (12) and 29 of the Constitution.

“Requiring me to appear repeatedly for an unforeseeable, immeasurable and prolonged duration before a magistrate’s court for purpose of mention in respect of the offence of treason contravenes the constitution,” starts part of the petition filed by Besigye. 

Article 28 (12) stipulates that except for contempt of court, no person shall be convicted of a criminal offence unless the offence is defined and the penalty for it is prescribed by law while Article 29 states that every person shall have freedom of conscience, expression, movement, religion, assembly and association.

He says the failure by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to commit him to the High Court within 180 days for trial.

Besigye also seeks a court pronouncement that a person charged with a capital offence should be committed to the high court for trial within and not later than 180 days.

He also wants the court to order his trial be permanently stayed and cleared of the offence.

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