Kampala, 28th/Feb/2012; Hearing of a treason trial against Otim Patrick, a journalist with Mega FM in Gulu and 13 other suspects has entered its 2nd week with prosecution producing pathology examination to ascertain the mental and physical state of the suspects. It was discovered that a haphazard examination or none at all was done during the initial examination of the suspects.
A medical doctor with the Uganda Police Force, Dr. Moses Byaruhanga, was the 13th state witness. He testified in regard to the physical examination of seven of the accused persons three of whom he personally examined, while four others including Patrick Otim were by his colleague Dr. Nsereko Mukasa.
According to Police Form 24, Otim was examined by Dr. Nsereko on 15thJune 2009 and allegedly found with no fresh injuries on the body, therefore rendering him of sound mind as per the forensic consultations.
During cross examination by defense lawyers led by Yunus Kasirivu, Ladislaus Rwakafuzi, Musa Ssembajja, Rashid Babu, Sauda Nsereko and Darlton however, it was discovered that all Dr. Nsereko’s forms had the word ‘none’ while Dr. Byarugaba’s had ‘no recent fresh wounds’. This prompted one of the defense lawyers to request court presided over by Justice David Wangutusi to order Dr. Byaruhanga to carry out a brief examination in the court room and it was discovered that the suspects including Sgt. Devolente Menya, Patrick Okello and Alfred Lubel Olanya had scars on their bodies while some had glaring deformities which were not indicated on the police examination forms.
The forms required the doctors to fill in the results of a complete body examination including recent or fresh wounds.
The accused are journalist Patrick Otim, Patrick Komaketch, Alex Okot Langwen, John Otim, Patrick Okello, Jimmy Oceng Opoka aka Billy, Francis Akena, Franki Abonga, Micheal Obol, Alfred Lubel Olanya, Lt. Emmy Oryem Mwaka and Sgt. Devolente Menya. They are also charged with treason and concealment of treason in the alternative.
Patrick Otim was kidnapped in 2009 and detained incommunicado for more than a month and he was brought to court through the habeas corpus filled by Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda).
Prosecution alleges that the suspects committed the offence between 2006 and May 2009 in eight districts of Kampala, Masindi, Gulu, Pader, Kitgum, Nebbi, Apac and Amuru when they formed a rebel group called the Popular Patriotic Front (PPF) and recruited people to fight and overthrow President Yoweri Museveni’s government. It further alleges that they mobilized logistical support for the rebellion by obtaining satellite phones, Global Positioning System (GPS) machines, solar panels, black polythene sheets, gumboots, laptops, walkie talkies and firearms.
“Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is praying that justice is delivered at the end of the trial. Accused persons have a right to a fair trial and this includes acquittal if evidence is found to be wanting,” said HRNJ-Uganda Programme Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala.