Kampala, 30th/May/2012; A High Court judge David Wangutusi has acquitted a Mega FM journalist Otim Patrick and 12 other suspects who have been on charges of treason and concealment oftreason for lack of sufficient evidence to sustain a prima facie case.
Justice Wangutusi before acquitting the accused held that theconcealment of treason count is rendered defective because the prosecution failed to identify any accused persons who knew persons intending to overthrow the government. Therefore, there is no proof of those who knew and failed to report.
Defense lawyers led by Yunus Kasirivu, Ladislaus Rwakafuzi, Musa Ssembajja, Sauda Nsereko and Darlton continuously bowed as each of the accused persons was discharged.
The accused are journalist Patrick Otim, Patrick Komaketch, Alex Okot Langwen, John Otim, PatrickOkello, Jimmy OcengOpoka aka Billy, Francis Akena, Abonga Nick, Micheal Obol, Alfred LubelOlanya, Lt. Emmy Oryem Mwaka and Sgt. DevolenteMenya. However, there are fears that Okot Langwen and Abonga have been re-arrested by the CID department of police and whisked off to Kibuli.
Patrick Otim was kidnapped in 2009 and detained incommunicado for more than a month and he was brought to court through a 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 YoweriMuseveni’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.
Speaking after the release, Otim applauded HRNJ-Uganda for the support rendered to him and his family since 2009 after the kidnap. “I cannot imagine that am now out of prison because there are many inmates who have spent more than ten years in Upper prison languishing without knowing their fate.
He added that as a torture victim, the scars continue to haunt him and he fears for his life when he returns to the community.
“Justice has finally been served. The people in Uganda have very little faith in the justice system in this country, but it is scenarios like this that restore the faith. This ruling is an achievement to the legal fraternity and the human rights circles as well. Otim Patrick and others have attained the liberty they deserve.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda Program Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala