Kampala, 17th/February/2012; The High Court in Kampala has set 3rd/ March/2012 for the hearing of a second bail application filed by Augustine Okello.
Augustine Okello commonly known as Rouks was a radio presenter at Rhino FM (a branch of Top Radio) in Lira prior to his arrest and treason charge. He has spent over six months in jail.
Okello was kidnapped on the evening of 13th 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.
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) filed for habeas corpus at High Court in Lira which pressurized security agencies. He was later produced to Buganda Road court.
He 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. Hearing of his case including 13 other suspects commenced at the High Court in Kampala on Monday 13th of February and is expected to last a fortnight.
Okello was charged with treason on 1st/Aug/2011 without a charge sheet and the defense lawyers are still struggling to access the prosecution file. He was committed to trial in the High Court on 6th January 2012.HRNJ-Uganda made a futile attempt in October 2011 through its Lawyer Duncan Ondimu to secure Okello bail. This is the second attempt.
“These long pre-trial detentions are indeed becoming a very big challenge to expeditious justice for the suspects. The investigative bodies should do their work in order to ensure that justice is delivered on time. Otherwise it appears that there is no willingness on the part of the state to hurriedly deliver justice to the suspects.” said HRNJ-Uganda Programme Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala.