Kampala, 20th/June/2012; High Court in Kampala has set a date to hear a bail application filed by a journalist suspected of treason.The application by Augustine Okello, a radio presenter at Rhino FM (a branch of Top Radio) in Lira has been set for 27th/June/2012 before Justice Lameck Mukasa. Okello has spent almost a year in jail.
The journalist commonly known as Rouks was kidnapped on the evening of 13th July 2011 in Lira District under unclear circumstances after holding several 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 and only produced after a journalists’ body Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) filed for habeas corpus at the High Court in Lira which pressurized security agencies. He was later presented 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. Otim has since been acquitted of the charges along with 13 other suspects.
Okello was charged with treason on 1st/Aug/2011 and committed to trial in the High Court on 6th January 2012.HRNJ-Uganda has made double attempts through its Lawyer Duncan Ondimu to secure Okello’s release on bail but was unsuccessful.“HRNJ-Uganda condemns these unjustifiably long pre-trial detentions which have become a stumbling block to expeditious justice for suspects in Uganda. The law in Uganda presumes that suspects are innocent until proved guilty, and the onus is on the state to prove this. So we appeal to the judiciary to grant bail to Okello and other suspects as the state undertakes to prosecute the case.” said HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala.