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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Uganda, A country where the corrupt smile away with their loot as opposition politicians are treated like beasts and criminals : OPM fraud: Kazinda to spend five years in prison: Kampala mayor Erias Lukwago tortured by Uganda police': Besigye arrested second time


  SMILING TO JAIL: Kazinda walks out of court after being sentenced. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa  


OPM fraud: Kazinda to spend five years in prison


Posted  Wednesday, June 26   2013 at  09:49

KAMPALAThe former Principal Accountant in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Geoffrey Kazinda has Wednesday been sentenced to 5 years in prison by the Anti Corruption Court sitting in Kampala.

Justice David Wangutusi handed Mr Kazinda 5 years for abuse of office, 2 years for forgery and another two years for unlawful possession of government stores.

The judge said the sentences will run concurrently.

On Wednesday last week, Justice Wangutusi found Mr Kazinda guilty of 29 counts of fraud with one count of forgery being an alternative count.

The judge however, reserved the sentencing for today.

Core to this fraud is that Mr Kazinda who has been on remand since October last year was found guilty of forging 26 signatures of his then boss and former Permanent Secretary in the Office of Prime Minister (OPM), Mr Pius Bigirimana with the intention to defraud the OPM of billions of shillings.

Court relied on circumstantial evidence to squarely link Mr Kazinda to forgery since there was no witness who saw him forge Mr Bigirimana’s signature.

The documents that he forged included; Security Papers and Withdraw Forms (both very high sensitive documents that are used in transfer of huge sums of money), were recovered by police from the home of Kazinda’s mother in Bukoto, Kampala after a search.  

However, no money was lost in this case although prosecution says he had intentions of defrauding the OPM if the situation had not been arrested early.

During mitigation, Principal State Attorney, Ms Jane Frances Abodo, asked court to hand Mr Kazinda the maximum custodial sentence of seven years to send a strong signal to those involved in corruption since it is on the rise.

Ms Abodo noted that the fact that Mr Kazinda had in possession of government property at his mother’s home, indicated that there was an intention to defraud donor and the tax payers’ money.

She also asked court to put into consideration the fact that the office of the Prime Minister is a sensitive office since its accommodates the Prime minister Amama Mbabazi and the First Lady, Ms Janet Museveni.

In rebuttal, defense lawyers led by Mr Augustine Idoot, asked court to give their client a lenient sentence, preferably a fine instead of the custodial one.

Mr Idoot explained to court that no money was lost in this case.

Dr.Kiiza Besigye in a Police cell in 2012

Ugandan politician arrested again as threat to stability


KAMPALA | Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:35am EDT

(Reuters) - Uganda's leading opposition politician has been arrested by police for the second time in less than a week for trying to destabilize the country, the latest in a series of actions seen as aimed at silencing dissent.

Police said Kizza Besigye was arrested for trying to spark a new round of protests against high prices and other grievances that he had championed in 2011 and which led to violent clashes with the security forces. His aide denied any such plan.

Besigye, a one-time ally of President Yoweri Museveni, has been held repeatedly on similar charges of inciting the public, most recently with a detention of a few hours on Thursday.

Museveni, who won local and international praise in the years after he took power in 1986 for stabilizing the country and spurring growth, has faced mounting criticism for what opponents say is an increasingly authoritarian style.

Police deputy spokesman Patrick Onyango said intelligence indicated Besigye was seeking to start a new round of the "walk to work" campaign that was sparked in 2011 to highlight then high fuel prices and wasteful government spending.

"Whenever we have information that he's setting out to go and cause chaos we'll not allow that," he said. "So today we arrested him as a preventive measure and we have him."

An aide to Besigye, who stood against Museveni in three presidential elections and complained of fraud when he lost, said police harassed him as he tried to leave his home, prompting party officials and others to gather in the area.

The aide, Francis Mwijukyes, said police then took him away.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Richard Lough and Michael Roddy)
20 June 2013Last updated at 23:14 GMT

Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago being supported by Kampala Metropolitan Police commander Andrew Felix Kaweesi (R) and other officers after a tear gas canister was hurled into his car in Mengo. Mr Lukwago was set to appear before a tribunal at Metropole Hotel but was taken to Case Medical Centre in Kampala. PHOTO BY FAISWAL KASIRYE 

Kampala mayor Erias Lukwago 'beaten by Uganda police'

The mayor of the Ugandan capital, Kampala, says he has been beaten by police, who fired rubber bullets to disperse a crowd of his supporters.

Mayor Erias Lukwago said he collapsed after tear gas was thrown into his car.

Police deny mistreating Mr Lukwago, a critic of President Yoweri Museveni. The opposition says the government is trying to stifle dissent.

In a separate incident, opposition leader Kizza Besigye was arrested for holding an unsanctioned rally.

'I collapsed'

Mr Lukwago was due to appear before a tribunal on Thursday for the first day of a hearing that could possibly impeach him for abuse of office.

The BBC's Catherine Byaruhanga in Kampala says police surrounded his home and then escorted him towards the building where the tribunal was being held.

But on the way a tear gas canister was thrown into his vehicle.

Speaking from his hospital bed, Mr Lukwago told the BBC: "All I could inhale was just the smoke - it went deep into my lungs. I have a problem of high blood pressure. I collapsed there. So they picked me [up], dumped me into the waiting van and drove away at a terrific speed."

He said that police officers hit him in the chest and tore his clothes.

"Those people were accusing me of all sorts of things - incitement to violence. They hit me in the chest, tore my shirt and treated me in a very rough manner. I tried to plead with them but to no avail," he said.

Kizza Besigye has been accused by police of inciting a crowd in Kampala to rally in support of Mr Lukwago, a charge his office denies.

"We were surprised to see Besigye appear there," deputy police spokesman Patrick Onyango said.

"Then he started addressing and inciting people as usual, yet he had no police permission to do that."

Mr Besigye's aide, Francis Mwigukye, who was with him when he was detained, dismissed the accusations.

He said Mr Besigye had been on regular business in Kampala when an impromptu crowd gathered around his car and grew angry when police stepped in.

Two shot in city chaos as Besigye is arrested

By Dear Jeanne

Posted  Friday, June 21   2013 at  09:53

KAMPALA- At least two civilians were shot, one of them in the back, as chaos erupted around the city’s central business district midmorning yesterday.

A combined military and police operation to contain former FDC president Kizza Besigye around the Kisekka Market hotbed appeared to get out of control with security personnel firing indiscriminately at crowds of unarmed and fleeing civilians.

High pressure bursts of coloured water were also unleashed from water cannon as riot police let loose, simultaneously firing canisters of teargas at will all over

the downtown scene of the action.
Downtown Kampala was soon shrouded in clouds of teargas and the sound of gunfire in scenes reminiscent of the police and security clampdown during the 2011 walk-to-work protests against rising fuel and commodity prices.

Business at the market came to a standstill as traders locked their shops and police maintained a full day’s deployment at Kisekka Market and surrounding areas.

An hour after the chaos, the Daily Monitor witnessed police washing away blood of one of shot victims from the tarmac adjoining Kyaggwe Road.

One of the victims was an unidentified pedestrian.
He bled profusely from his wounds in the back as traders first carried him into the middle of the road before he was rushed to Mulago National Referral Hospital.
The other victim was reportedly shot in the leg and also taken to Mulago.

But police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba could only confirm one person shot yesterday.

“I only know one person who was shot in the back by a rubber bullet. He is currently being taken to the theatre but we have been informed that he is able to talk. The situation is now calm and at least there have been no deaths,” Ms Nabakooba said.

Besigye arrested

Dr Kizza Besigye, the former president of Forum for Democratic Change, was arrested in Kikuubo trading area on Namirembe Road, while heading to Kisekka Market in his car.

Dr Besigye had just returned to the country on Wednesday from one of his routine trips to the US.

Before being picked up, he had been waving at traders in the busy hub hence attracting police attention.

By press time, he had been transferred from the Central Police Station in Kampala to Kira Police Station in Wakiso District.
Politicians, journalists and other members of the public were denied access to the opposition leader.

The force had deployed at his home early morning but the retired colonel somehow slipped past the cordon and drove into town with his driver and aides, Sam Mugumya and Francis Mwijukye.

His driver, Fred Kato, and Mr Mugumya were also arrested.
Kampala Central Division Police commander James Ruhweza told journalists that Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and Dr Besigye had planned to hold a rally in Kisekka Market.

Besigye travel still restricted


Posted  Wednesday, June 26   2013 at  01:00

The government yesterday said opposition leader Kizza Besigye’s activities around the city will remain restricted because allowing the politician free access to town could help him bring down a
“legitimately elected government through chaos.”

A government spokesperson made the remarks after Dr Besigye was, for a second day running, prevented from getting into town by the police. The Force never provided details of what it claimed was intelligence information pointing to planned mischief by the politician, which reportedly informed their decision.

Yesterday afternoon, Dr Besigye was first placed under preventive arrest at his home, despite last year’s ruling by Kasangati Grade One Magistrate Jessica Chemery that it was unlawful for police to detain him in a place not gazetted as a detention centre.

Police later picked him from an access road that leads up to his Kasangati home, bundled him into a waiting van and drove him to Kira Police Station. By press time, no charges had been preferred against him.

Col Shaban Bantariza, the deputy executive director of the Media Centre, said Dr Besigye rejected the 2011 poll results, insisting they were rigged, and vowed to protest and bring down the government.

“It is no longer possible to go to the bush and fight and they [the opposition] are not being patient for the ballot in 2016. That is why they are engaging in chaos with the hope of bringing the government down,” Col Bantariza said.

He added: “Besigye belongs to 4GC which has been outlawed. Their argument is that the government in power was elected illegally and that they will use any means to bring it down.”

Condemning clampdown
Local and international rights organisations, however, last evening said the police’s actions against the opposition leader were “draconian, brutal and troubling.”
Ms Maria Burnett, the Human Rights Watch senior researcher for Africa, challenged the Force to provide evidence of “wrongdoing” against Dr Besigye.
“Besigye should have the same rights as all Ugandans to move freely and discuss key issues,” Ms Burnett wrote in an email.

Mr Livingstone Ssewanyana, the executive director of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, said police’s actions should be challenged in the Constitutional Court: “It is an abuse of one’s individual freedom of movement, expression and assembly.”
Yesterday, Mr Mathias Mpuuga, the coordinator of 4GC, a pressure group behind the protests, rejected the government’s views, saying it was part of the process of “circumventing justice.”

Meanwhile, 4GC also announced it was calling nationwide protests beginning today against “mismanagement of the economy, excessive taxation and abuse of office.”

Rights bodies call for torture victims compensation

Publish Date: Jun 26, 2013

By Moses Walubiri

KAMPALA - Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) in partnership with the Coalition Against Torture – a loose coalition of human rights organization fighting torture – has petitioned Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga over government’s failure to compensate victims of torture for cases going as far back as 2003.

In their petition on Tuesday in which they decried the spate of torture incidents in places of detention despite Uganda’s ratification of the international convention against the vice, UHRC called for the expeditious compensation of the 266 torture victims for violation of their rights.

“A strict policy should be put in places of detention and elsewhere to eliminate incidents of torture,” Dr. Amooti Katebalirwe, a commissioner at UHRC said while presenting the petition, adding, “We are concerned that torture survivors in this country still face a lot of obstacles when seeking justice and reparation.”

Kadaga committed the petition to the relevant committee of parliament promising to moot an action plan on compensating all torture victims.

“We shall have an opportunity with ministry of justice and ensure that an action plan is put in place to compensate these people,” Kadaga said.

UHRC tribunals have over the last 10 years awarded sh3b to 266 torture victims in compensation, with the principal sum accumulating interest as government struggles to pay them.

Early this year, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Kahinda Otafire, told legislators that his ministry is saddled with sh254b in compensation claims that is accumulating interest yet ministry of finance has earmarked a paltry sh4b in the financial year 2013/14 to clear the backlog.

Last year, President Yoweri Museveni assented to the Prohibition and Prevention of Torture Act, 2012 signaling government’s commitment to international and regional conventions against torture that it has ratified over the years.

The new law seeks to make perpetrators of torture to incur individual liability so that compensation awards have a deterrent effect.

However, the law seems not to have had an immediate effect with the 2012 human rights report ‘accusing’ police officers of being the worst perpetrators of torture, especially in detention centers.

Uganda will today join the rest of the world to commemorate the UN International Day in Support of Torture Victims under the theme, “implement the Anti-torture law now: Compensate torture survivors.”