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Court orders release of suspect in murder of Eritrean

By Barbra Kabahumuza

Added 16th January 2017 05:50 PM

The continued detention of the applicant without a formal charge or trial was not only unlawful, but a violation of her constitutional rights

Court orders release of suspect in murder of Eritrean

The continued detention of the applicant without a formal charge or trial was not only unlawful, but a violation of her constitutional rights

Buganda Road Court chief magistrate, James Ereemye, has ordered the police to release Lucy Katuramu, one of the suspects in the murder of an Eritrean, Daniel Weldo Okbamichael.

Ereemye ordered the Police Force to unconditionally release Katuramu from wherever she is being detained, stating that it violates her constitutional rights. The constitution requires suspects to be produced in court within 48 hours.

Katuramu's application through her lawyers, Bakiza and Company Advocates, for a habeas corpus (an order for production of a suspect whether dead or alive), was on grounds that she was sick and she therefore needed urgent treatment. 

In an affidavit sworn by Katuramu's sister, Gladys Mwanguhya, she said her sister was arrested on December 15, 2016, at Hotel Africana by police officers from the flying squad a special unit under Uganda police force, and that she has never been produced in court.

"Upon being arrested by the police operatives, her motor vehicle, a Harrier registration number UAV 103G and her handbag containing her passport, cheque books, money, telephone handsets and other personal effects were impounded and taken into police  custody at central police station, Kampala," Mwanguhya stated.

She noted that Katuramu has since been detained at various places including Central Police Station, Kampala, Nalufenya, Jinja, Rippon Medical Service Centre in Jinja, Jinja Referral hospital and Kampala Medical Chambers where she is presently reportedly illegally detained and guarded by police as a sick person.

Her affidavit shows that Katuramu has been kept in police custody for a period of 27 days to date which is beyond the constitutional period of 48hours without being produced in any court of law or being released on police bond.

According to the court documents, the continued detention of the applicant without a formal charge or trial was not only unlawful, but a violation of her constitutional rights.

Mwanguhya's submission prompted the chief magistrate to rule thus; "I hereby order for the unconditional release of Katuramu from any other illegal custody against the respondents." The ruling was passed on Friday January 13.

Katuramu is among the six suspects under detention over the murder of Okbamichael, who was kidnapped on October 27, 2016, killed and his body dumped in Busia, Kenya, upon discovering that his account in Stanbic Bank had sh7b. In this murder, an unregistered telephone number 0701995857 was used to call the deceased, according to an intelligence report.

The suspects, who include; policemen, an army officer, bankers, telecom operators among others, went ahead and withdrew the money from the deceased's account.

They are; Ruth Akullo, a Stanbic employee and wife of Uganda People Defence Forces Captain Hakim Mangeni, another suspect. Mangeni was arrested alongside Lucy Katuramu and Christopher Kusera, city Lawyer Benon Lumu Duncan and Tom Giita a direct sales team personnel of Simba telecom.

An earlier CMI report however indicated that top Police and Military officials operating under the Joint Anti-terrorism Task Force organised the kidnap and working in cohorts with bank officials secretly withdrew and transferred huge sums of money from the deceased account.

The report indicated that the team of officers led by one Nixon held the deceased at a safe house at Lower Kololo opposite the National Tourism Board offices.

The CMI report indicates that shortly after Okbamichael had been kidnapped, four suspects who had credible information about his whereabouts were arrested with items that belonged to the deceased. However, it remains unclear why these prime suspects were set free. The four suspects included; Stephen, Bashir, Bob and Alex.

The report also indicates that Robert Kazawula, one of the suspects who was being sought, claimed he was being used by a police officer called Nixon. It also states that Nixon always used him and his group to conduct illegal missions and when issues backfired he denounced them.

The suspect was willing to volunteer information to pin Nixon. 

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