Kampala, 14th/February/2012; A treason case against Otim Patrick, a journalist with Mega FM in Gulu and 13 others hangs in balance following their lawyers protesting against the trial saying it expired in May last year after the general elections in February and consequent swearing in of a new government in May.
The defense lawyers representing the 14 including Ladislaus Rwakafuzi, Yunus Kasirivu, Musa Ssembajja, Rashid Babu, Sauda Nsereko and Darlton Opwonya raised a preliminary point of law when they submitted that the charges against the accused are not sustainable since the government they purportedly plotted to overthrow expired in 2011.
The accused are journalist Patrick Otim, Patrick Komaketch, Alex Okot langwen, John Otim, Patrick Okello, Alfred Lubel Olanya, Jimmy Oceng Opoka aka Billy, Francis Akena, Franki Abonga, Micheal Obol, Lt. Emmy Oryem Mwaka and Sgt. Devolente Komakech. They are also charged with treason and concealment of treason in the alternative.
They appeared for trial at the High Court in Kampala Presided over by Justice David Wangutusi, and all denied the charges.
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.
The summary of the case and the indictment were too ambiguous because they did not specify the dates and venues on which the accused persons committed the alleged offences.
The state withdrew its charges from Kidega Patrick and Okello Phillip who were beneficiaries of the Amnesty Commission.
The ruling on this objection is set to be delivered on the 15th of February at the High Court in Kampala.
“The journalist Patirck Otim and the others deserve a fair hearing. They have been on remand since 2009 therefore; we hope that justice will be delivered to them with no further delays” Said the HRNJ-Uganda Programme Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala.