Rwenzori Attacks: Court Martial Frees 126 Suspects

A suspect gets off a police truck at Kasese District police headquarters.
A suspect gets off a police truck at Kasese District police headquarters.

The UPDF general court martial has freed all the 126 suspects who were arrested in connection with the July 15th attacks in Rwenzori region. 

The suspects have been facing seven counts of attempted murder, two counts relating to security and seven counts of unlawful acquisition of firearms amongst others.

The suspects appeared before the General martial chaired by Major General Levi Karuhanga on July 15th and were remanded to Katojo prison in Fort Portal. But on Monday afternoon, Major Fred Kangwamu, the state prosecutor told the General Court martial sitting at Bundibugyo district headquarters that, the state had lost interest in the case because none of the accused persons was a ring leader in the attacks.

He explained that the ring leaders in the attacks applied for Amnesty, which was granted. Kangwamu argued that, the suspects were misled to participate in the attacks adding that, the state shouldn’t be seen to be punishing the misled more harshly than the leaders.

Soon after his submission to the court, there were scenes of jubilation as the suspects, who were seated under a tent, guarded by military police, clapped their hands and hugged each other. Some of the suspects were also seen shedding tears of joy.

Relatives of some the suspects who had turned up looked shocked by the announcement of the prosecutor. As a result, the Major General Levi Karuhanga freed the accused.

Among the suspects who were set free, was Yeremiya Mutooro, the Rwenzururu deputy premier, Ibrahim, the Ntoroko district information officer, Ben Mutahinga, the LC3 Chairperson Karugutu Sub County and Yoramu Mulema, the chairperson of Rwenzururu war veterans and the chief adviser to the Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere on security matters.

Maj. Kangwamu however said the withdrawal of charges does not stop the court from future criminal proceedings against the same people, on the same offences, should the state deem it necessary.

He also said that the trial of 54 others accused in connection with the same attacks in Kasese district, will still go ahead since they are on different charges.

In July more than 90 people lost their lives when unknown people carried out simultaneous attacks in the districts of Kasese, Bundibugyo and Ntoroko. The attacks were attributed to tribal conflicts after Lt. Col. Martin Kamya was installed Bamba Cultural leader.

URN

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