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UPDF condemns hooliganism as army court denies bail to jailed NUP supporters

Mr Muhydin Kakooza, a NUP party supporter, raises his hand before he lashes out at the military court’s panel last week. PHOTO/ABUBAKER LUBOWA

Kampala, UG:- The Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) Monday condemned hooliganism exhibited at the General Court Martial at Makindye when the army court yet again denied bail to the 28 National Unity Platform (NUP) supporters for lack of merit in the bail application.

In a statement dated Monday, April 15, 2024, Defence Spokesperson, Brig Gen Felix Kulayigye described the acts of NUP supporters including MPs as hooliganism, which is totally uncalled for especially in public gatherings such as courts.

“Today 15 April 2024, while the Court Martial was in session at Makindye, some members in the audience who included members of parliament and defendants in the dock displayed the most contemptuous acts of hooliganism against the honourable court-martial,” Brig Kulayigye said.

“The UPDF therefore, condemns in the strongest terms possible such acts of hooliganism and will not hesitate to request court martial authorities to take legal action against those involved. The sanctity of the court must be respected at all times,” he added.

Kulayigye’s statement followed protests by the jailed supporters in which some were heard loudly saying they “won’t beg Museveni for freedom” as the UPDF van whisked them back to prison.

“We won’t beg [President Yoweri] Museveni for our freedom. It’s okay if you want to kill us for trying to fight for our country. You arrested us for trying to protect Robert Kyagulanyi’s votes [during presidential elections] now you expect us to beg you to return our freedom! What crime did we commit! We will not relent,” one of the political prisoners shouted from a military van taking them back to prison where they have been on remand for over three years.

The Chaos

The suspects were first remanded on charges of unlawful possession of 13 explosive devices following their arrest in December 2020 (during presidential campaigns) before an additional charge of treachery was slapped on them.

They have had several of their bail applications dismissed before by the army court, largely on grounds that their sureties are not substantial.

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As a result, eight opposition MPs and a divisional mayor offered to stand surety for the suspects.
This was after the army court in its prior ruling rejected their parents and spouses on grounds that they were not substantial sureties.

During the hearing of the latest application, the state prosecutor, Lt Alex Mukhana who relied on the affidavit of ASP Julius Muzigiti opposed the bail application on grounds that the applicants are charged with one count of treachery contrary to section 129 of the UPDF Act, 2005 and one count of unlawful possession of ammunition contrary to section 3(1) and (2) (a) of the Firearms Act.

He also argued that the refusal or grant of bail is at court’s discretion considering all the circumstances and merits of the application.

In the court’s ruling read by Brig Gen Mugabe, he said the court found no merit in the bail application.
“…and court declines to grant bail to the applicants. The application is hereby dismissed. Court orders an expeditious trial of the applicants in the main case,” he said forcing one of the suspects, Muhysdin Kakooza to jump out of the dock in attempt to attack the court chairperson.

He was subjected to a beating by soldiers deployed in the courtroom.

This was the third time Kakooza, frustrated by delayed justice, turned rowdy in the courtroom.

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Outside the heavily guarded courtroom, Brig Gen Mugabe’s ruling also sparked outrage as relatives of the suspects and politicians who had attempted court protested, describing the decision as unfair.

Brig Gen Kulayigye defended the court’s action saying; “The General Court Martial remains committed to dispensing justice to its servicemen and women, and all those subject to military law as per law established.”

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