Kampala, 10th/Jan/2012; Augustine Okello, a radio presenter at Rhino FM (a branch of Top Radio) in Lira has applied for bail in the High Court in Kampala through his defence lawyer, Counsel Duncan Ondimu.
Okello, who was committed to trial in the High Court on the 6th of January 2012, has been in detention for six months now.
This is the second bail attempt, the first one having been denied by the presiding judge on grounds that the sureties were not substantial, that the medical form was vague and that proof of ownership of the accused’s land in Lira was not strictly proven.
HRNJ-Uganda and the defense counsel have filed a fresh bail application in the High Court in Kampala under bail number (06/2012) with the relevant amendments. A new medical form clearly indicating that the accused is ill and cannot be treated by the prison has already been obtained. Other sureties from Lira have been identified and Proof of ownership of the accused’s land has also been availed by his wife.
However, currently most of the judges are attending the 14th annual judges’ conference in Kampala which will last for four days. We hope that as soon as applicable, there will be an available judge to hear the application, so that the accused receives justice expeditiously.
Okello a.k.a Rouks was kidnapped on the evening of 13th of July 2011 under unclear circumstances in Lira District after holding a number of meetings with the district internal security officer (DISO) Stephen Eriaku and another police man attached to Lira Central Police station.
He was detained incommunicado for more than two weeks in different places including Kitante based Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and Kireka, the headquarters of Rapid Response Unit (RRU). RRU has since been disbanded and incorporated into other security organs.
He was brought to court after Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) filled for habeas corpus at High Court in Lira which pressurized security agencies and he was later taken to a subordinate court in Kampala (Buganda Road court).
Okello is the second journalist from Northern Uganda to be charged with treason after Mega FM’s Otim Patrick who was kidnapped in a similar way and is currently languishing in Luzira prison pending the hearing of his case.
Since the time of his arrest and detention, Okello’s health condition has and continues to deteriorate greatly due to the conditions in Prison. Therefore, HRNJ-Uganda hopes that the presumption of innocence as laid down in the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995 under Article 23(6) (a) be visited in his favour and in the interest of justice and observation of the Constitution.