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Otunnu petitions court over summons

By Vision Reporter

Added 26th April 2010 03:00 AM

UPC boss Olara Otunnu has petitioned the Constitutional Court to block the Police from compelling him to record statements on several criminal charges against him.The petition, filed on Friday, challenges the constitutionality of two sections of the Penal Code Act and a section in the Police Act.

UPC boss Olara Otunnu has petitioned the Constitutional Court to block the Police from compelling him to record statements on several criminal charges against him.The petition, filed on Friday, challenges the constitutionality of two sections of the Penal Code Act and a section in the Police Act.

By Milton Olupot and Steven Candia

UPC boss Olara Otunnu has petitioned the Constitutional Court to block the Police from compelling him to record statements on several criminal charges against him.The petition, filed on Friday, challenges the constitutionality of two sections of the Penal Code Act and a section in the Police Act.

Otunnu, through his lawyers Lukwago and Co. Advocates and Ojakol and Okallany Advocates, has challenged Section 41 and 179 of the Penal Code Act, which touch on libel and promoting sectarianism.

Citing Section 27 A of the Police Act, UPC treasurer cum legal adviser Peter Walubiri said a person being summoned has a right not to turn up if he or she has a reasonable excuse.

Otunnu was summoned last week over charges of libel, but he snubbed the summons. When summoned for the second time on Friday, on charges of promoting sectarianism, he again declined to report to the Police and instead sent his lawyer, Erias Lukwago.

Otunnu wants court to declare that the Police have no powers to compel someone to record statements. He said if the Police wishes to proceed against him, they should go to court and let court issue the summons.

He argues that the case of libel against him does not arise, given that criminal libel is in relation to printed material and not remarks made over radio as it was in his case.

He adds that compelling him to make a statement in relation to the charges contravenes Article 28 (7) of the Constitution, which provides that no person shall be charged or convicted of a criminal offence which is founded on an act that did not constitute a criminal offence.

On promoting sectarianism, Otunnu argues that the charge as per the law does not constitute a crime. He, therefore, was not willing to incriminate himself as provided for by the Constitution and the Police Act.

He quotes Sub-section 11 of Article 28 of the Constitution that states: “No person shall be compelled to give evidence against him or herself.”

“This petition is of public importance and does not apply to Dr. Otunnu as an individual but to anyone who is caught up in a similar position. In this petition, court will determine the constitutionality of the sections and will also free the Police from being misused,” Walubiri said yesterday.

On Friday, Lukwago expressed shock after learning that the Police had preferred a fresh charge of promoting sectarianism against Otunnu and accused them of being on a “fishing expedition” to incriminate his client.

After snubbing the summons
twice, the Police are also
contemplating charging the defiant politician with disobeying lawful orders, according to Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba.

The UPC boss reportedly made the remarks on a local radio in Lira that the war in northern Uganda was facilitated by President Museveni.

Otunnu petitions court over summons

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