Treason suspects bailed, re-arrested

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A three-hour standoff ensued yesterday afternoon as soldiers attempted to re-arrest fourteen treason suspects who had been granted bail by the High Court. A special military squad, known as the iBlack Mambai and attached to the Presidential Guard Brigade arrived at the High Court in Kampala in two omni buses similar to publict transport taxis and laid siege at court before the judge pronounced himself on the case. The 14 men, who together with Dr. Kiiza Besigye, are charged with treason were granted bail by High Court judge, Justice Edmund Sempa Lugayizi. He ruled that it was their constitutional right to be granted bail and ruled in their favour, despite protests by the prosecution. The soldiers, dressed in black T-shirts and spotted fatigue trousers took position near the High Court Registry to re-arrest the bailed men. A stand off that lasted about three hours ensued as lawyers for the bailed suspects resisted their being re-arrested. Representatives of 15 major donor nations to Uganda, mainly from the European Union and the United States looked on helplessly and kept making telephone calls as the mean looking soldiers sealed off a section of the court compound. The Chairman of the Partners for Democracy and Governance, Ambassador Stig Barlyng made frantic calls to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sam Kutesa, in an effort to avert the re-arrest but was unsuccessful. The donors later held an impromptu meeting under a shed and made a statement welcoming the bail but declined to comment on the soldiers. Cue in: "We have been# Cue out#not happened." The suspects were later whisked back to Luzira after their sureties refused to sign the bail forms saying they could not let the suspects into the hands of unknown people. The 14 men were loaded onto a Uganda Prisons Department bus and taken back to Luzira Prison. Earlier attempts by the military operatives to re-arrest the 14 men inside the courthouse were foiled when court officials and representatives of the accused protested this action. They said re-arresting the men within the court premises was illegal and was an abuse of court. Lawyer for the suspects Yusuf Nsibambi protested the re-arrest to donor representatives. Cue in: "They are not... Cue out:#fight for Justice." The Danish Ambassador to Uganda, Stig Barlyng, told journalists at the High Court that the Partners for Good Governance and Democracy, a coalition of 15 of Uganda's development partners, will meet this tonight to present a united statement on events surrounding Besigye's arrest. Other foreign diplomats who observed the proceedings at the High Court included the European Union Ambassador to Uganda, Sigurd Illing and the French Ambassador, Bernard Garancher.

 

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