Arua treason suspect wants her underwear back

One of the 35 treason suspects made court laugh yesterday when she demanded that court recovers her two underpants that went missing from her handbag during last year’s scuffle in the Arua Municipality parliamentary by-election. Night Asara, 38, a female Councillor in Arua municipality, told court that her property was confiscated by the then West Nile regional Police commander, Jonathan Musinguzi.

Asara, who still walks using crutches, was among the treason suspects who reportedly sustained serious body injuries at the hands of security personnel during the scuffle in the Arua Municipality byelection in August last year.

She said her property, including her sh38,000 and her bag, which contained her underpants, among other items, was confiscated by security Gulu Magistrate’s Court presided over by Isaac Emerald Kintu, a Grade One Magistrate, burst into laughter when the female suspect made the allegation. Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine, also said he lost his wedding ring, golden wristwatch, two smartphones, two cars, sh3.5m and $600 ( about sh2.2m) in cash.

The Arua Municipality MP, Kassiano Wadri, told court that he lost a pair of shoes, sh85m cash and two phones. The suspects, including the MPs, told court through their lawyers that their property was confiscated by security organs during the Arua byelections on August 13, 2018. This was during the earlier submissions before Kintu adjourned the case to March 19, 2019, after prosecution told court that investigations were still ongoing.

The magistrate also ruled that the officers in charge of criminal investigations at Arua and Gulu central Police stations must appear before court to answer queries regarding the property of the 35 suspects. The defence lawyers, Paul Acellam and Tonny Kitara, submitted that the State be issued with a notice on the constitutional provision for investigations to be completed within six months. Acellam said it is now over five months but the matter is being adjourned.

“Their trial is not forthcoming; the suspects have been denied modern means of earning a living, they have been destabilised, some may fail to take their children to school, while others may turn into beggars,” Acellam stressed.

The state prosecutor in Gulu, Julius Ocen, prayed for another adjournment, saying the law limits investigations to six months if the suspects are on remand, but suspects who are on court bail do not benefit from the law. The lead counsel for the suspects, Henry Kilama, said:

“If prosecution does not complete its investigations in the reaming two months, we shall pray for a case dismissal.”

All the suspects were charged with treason after being implicated in the chaotic episodes in the run up to the August 15, 2018 Arua Municipality parliamentary by-election, including the attack on the President’s convoy. They were granted bail in late August. The by-election was aimed at getting a replacement for MP Ibrahim Abiriga, who was murdered on June 8, last year. Wadri, who campaigned as an independent candidate won the race.