The second bail application for 32 members of the National Unity Platform (NUP) has been postponed by the army court in Kampala.
The defendants, the majority of whom were detained in the island district of Kalangala when Mr. Robert Kyagulanyi, the leader of the NUP, was out campaigning, are charged with illegally possessing explosive devices, which are typically the sole preserve of the armed forces.
Since their detention during the bloody 2021 presidential campaigns, in which Mr. Yoweri Museveni of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) was elected president as he sought to extend his reign into the fourth decade, they have spent more than two years in custody at Kitalya Prison.
The suspects, majority of whom are young people under 30, were denied bail by the same court presided over by Brig. Gen. Freeman Mugabe in October of last year. Brig. Gen. Mugabe argued that the suspects’ sureties were insufficient, the offenses against them were serious, and they had not demonstrated that they had fixed places of residence.
Hearing of the Second Application
However, Brig. Gen. Mugabe ordered a speedy trial, which, according to their attorneys, lead by Mr. George Musisi, has been thwarted by both the government and the General Court Martial.
The suspects who appeared before Brig Gen Mugabe on Monday requested judicial release pending hearing of their case in their second effort to obtain bail.
Their lawyers’ claims that they have a constitutional right to bail, that they have fixed residences within the court’s jurisdiction, and that their sureties are substantial are among the justifications they offered for their interim release.
Also, they pledged not to impede the case’s investigation or jeopardize the integrity of any witnesses.
Additionally, their attorneys asserted that their clients are law-abiding people who have never been accused of or convicted of a crime before, that they are deemed innocent until proven guilty, and that they will abide by any bail requirements set down by the court.
They also informed the court that they had been held without charge for two years and did not know how long the case would last.
Lieutenant Gift Mubehamwe, the state’s prosecutor, requested additional time from the court to verify the information provided by the suspects’ attorneys, claiming that several of their sureties are also suspects in other crimes but are out on bail.
The matter was postponed by Brig Gen Mugabe until March 29, when the court is scheduled to hear arguments from the state prosecutor over the bail application.