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Uganda withdraws treason case against Kizza Besigye

Monday October 11 2021
Kizza Besigye uganda

Ugandan police confront opposition leader Kizza Besigye. FILE PHOTO | AFP

By DAILY MONITOR

The treason case that was slapped against former four-time Ugandan presidential candidate, Kizza Besigye, for allegedly swearing-in himself as president following the disputed 2016 polls has been withdrawn, Daily Monitor has learnt.

The withdrawal happened in December 2019 during Justice Mike Chibita’s reign as the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), though it is not clear if Dr Besigye was informed of the development.

“This is to inform court that the Director of Public Prosecutions has decided to discontinue proceedings against Rtd Col Kizza Besigye Kifefe charged with treason,” the withdrawal form signed off by then DPP Chibita reads in part.

Sources said the form was filed before Nakawa Court’s registry, but it was not followed with the formal withdrawal process that involves court convening with the accused person/s present.

Efforts to reach Dr Besigye yesterday were futile. However, one of the lawyers who represented him in the case, Mr Ernest Kalibaala, said he was not aware of the development.

He said the withdrawal could have been done secretly.

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“If it was withdrawn, I have never seen the documentation, maybe it was done secretly. I heard about it the other day,” Mr Kalibaala said.

“Usually, when you have a nolle prosequi (the withdrawal form), the accused (Dr Besigye) is made aware of it, you may find that doctor (Besigye) is not aware,” he added.

Origin of case

The treason charges arose after a video clip of his alleged swearing-in went viral on social media on May 11, 2016, on the eve of President Museveni’s planned swearing-in for his fifth elective term in office.

Dr Besigye was first charged with treason in Moroto District before he was transferred to Nakawa Court in Kampala and charged afresh.

Dr Besigye had refused to return to the court, citing delay in concluding investigations and having him committed to the High Court to stand trial.

“This matter has been going on for over eight months and it has extremely constrained me. It is costly both in time and resources moving to this court over charges that are not going anywhere,” he said at his last court appearance in 2017. 

“I will respectfully want to inform this court that I will not come back. When investigations are done, they can inform me. I will only come back to this court as a prisoner if they choose to arrest me,” he added.

Then DPP Chibita attributed the delays in concluding the investigations to uncooperative witnesses who allegedly attended Dr Besigye’s swearing-in but refused to record statements with police.

Report by Anthony Wesaka

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