Court Issues Criminal Summons Against Besigye

The Buganda Road Magistrates Court has issued criminal summons against opposition politicians Dr. Kiiza Besigye and Samuel Lubega Mukaaku due to their failure to appear in court for the scheduled hearing in their incitement to violence case.

Grade One Magistrate Asuman Muhumuza issued the summons on Wednesday when the prosecution was expected to present additional witnesses.

According to the prosecution, the defendants are jointly charged with making statements on June 14, 2022, in Kikuubo, Shauriyako parish, Kampala city, which suggested a desire to engage in demonstrations that could lead to violence and property damage.

The charges stem from a protest against the escalating prices of commodities in the country. Both Besigye, a four-time Presidential Candidate, and Mukaaku, a former Rubaga North Parliamentary Candidate, were granted bail and instructed to attend court as required.

However, neither Besigye, Mukaaku, nor their legal representatives were present in court as expected. Consequently, the prosecution, led by Allan Mucunguzi and accompanied by two arresting officers prepared to testify, requested the issuance of criminal summons against the accused individuals. The prosecution also presented exhibits, including placards and a megaphone believed to have been used during the alleged crimes.

The presiding magistrate agreed with the prosecutor’s request and issued a criminal summons, compelling Besigye and Mukaaku to appear in court on July 27, 2023, without fail. During the trial, prosecution witnesses, primarily police officers such as David Nahamya, the head of Operations at Kampala Central Police Station, testified that Besigye and Mukaaku’s actions caused chaos in downtown Kampala, disrupting business operations.

Nahamya recounted receiving reports of a gathering near the Qualicel building at Mini Price, prompting him to dispatch officers to investigate the situation. He stated that upon reaching the scene, he observed Besigye parking his vehicle in the middle of the road while Mukaaku used a loudspeaker to mobilize people against the government in the local language of Luganda.

The witnesses alleged that the accused individuals obstructed traffic flow, prevented access to shops, and became violent when confronted by law enforcement personnel who attempted to retrieve the loudspeaker.

Furthermore, it was revealed that Besigye and Mukaaku locked themselves inside Besigye’s vehicle, leading Nahamya to request reinforcement in order to restore order. Consequently, Besigye’s vehicle was towed and has since been held at Kampala Central Police Station as a prosecution exhibit.

In October 2022, Grade One Magistrate Asuman Muhumuza ordered the state to return the impounded vehicle, but it has not been released to Besigye yet. It is important to note that the criminal summons against Besigye come shortly after the same court, presided over by Grade One Magistrate Siena Owomugisha, dismissed similar charges against him due to a lack of prosecution, resulting in his release.

Besigye has publicly stated that these charges are politically motivated and part of a pattern of persecution by the state, citing past instances where he has faced numerous charges, including serious offenses like rape and treason, without conviction.

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