Court renews arrest warrant for Siraje Bakaleke

Siraje Bakaleke

The state prosecutor has told court that the Police have intensified the hunt for Assistant Commissioner of Police Siraje Bakaleke, who is accused of kidnap and fraud involving sh1.5b. On Friday, Harriet Angom told the Anti-Corruption Court, presided over by Grade One Magistrate Moses Nabende, that the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) wrote to Uganda Police Interpol and the internal affairs ministry, which indicated to her that the hunt for Bakaleke is still going on.

“I am still waiting for answers from Interpol and the internal affairs ministry about Bakaleke, who is still missing. However, you can extend Bakaleke’s warrant of arrest and issue criminal summons for those who are not present in court,” she requested.

Although the case was coming up for mention, Angom notified court that investigations into the matter were complete, but the trial is being delayed by Bakaleke. This prompted the magistrate to issue an arrest warrant against Bakaleke, before adjourning the case to January 14, next year for mention.

This is the fourth time court has issued an arrest warrant for Bakaleke for refusing to appear in court to plead to the charges. Bakaleke was formerly the political education chief under the Police’s Directorate of Political Commissariat. Prior to this development, he served as the Regional Police Commander for Kampala Metropolitan Police (South).

Last month, the police top management declared Bakaleke a deserter for being absent without official leave (AWOL) after more than 30 days of allegedly absconding from duty. All payments to his account have since been reportedly halted. Bakaleke and nine others are facing 12 counts of abuse of office, obtaining money by false pretence, embezzlement and kidnapping with intent to confine a person.

He is battling the said charges alongside six other police officers and Samuel Nabeta Mulowooza, 30, the managing director of Eye Power Engineering Company Limited. The Policemen are Robert Munezero, 31; Innocent Nuwagaba, 32; Robert Ray Asiimwe, 37; Junior Amanya, 28; Gastavas Babu, 27 and Kenneth Zirintusa, 26. All the policemen, including Bakaleke, were recently suspended from their stations, pending investigations.

They are currently out on bail. The charge of embezzlement and kidnap attracts a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, while abuse of office attracts seven years and conspiracy to defraud three years in prison on conviction. The accused are said to have defrauded three South Korean businessmen of $415,000 (about sh1.5b) in a gold scam on February 8.

It is alleged that the policemen and others still at large, between February 4 and 7 this year, committed arbitrary acts by causing the illegal arrest and confinement of Jan Seungkwon, Park Seunghoon and Ha Dongsub, all from South Korea.

Prosecution further alleges that the suspects in the same period kidnapped the Koreans with the intention to secretly and wrongfully confine them. Court records indicate that one of the policemen had promised to protect the Koreans in a suspected gold smuggling cartel from DR Congo, but their Ugandan agent refused the deal, which prompted their arrest on alleged trumped-up terrorism charges.

The Koreans were later detained at Katwe Police station, where they spent one night, before being released on bond.