The state has slapped a second charge on suspects accused of stoning President Museveni car in Arua Municipality on August 13 last year before they were committed to High Court for trial.
The 37 suspects had earlier been charged with treason for allegedly using a stone to vandalise one of Mr Museveni’s car in the run up to Arua Municipality by-election.
However, on Thursday, the state prosecutor Patrick Omiya amended the charge sheet to include another offence against the suspects who had appeared before the grade one Magistrate’s court presided over by Isaac Imran Kintu.
The prosecutor added a second count of intending to alarm, annoy and ridicule the president contrary to section 24 subsections C of the penal code act.
At least 27 of the 37 suspects appeared before the magistrate court today. They included among others Arua Municipality MP Kasiano Wadri, Eddie Mutwe and Omar Risasi Ciruson.
Particulars of the charges state that all the suspects on August 13 2018, along Ediofe road in Arua Municipality with intent to alarm, annoy and ridicule the president wrongfully restrained the presence of the person of the president of Uganda by refusing to give him the right of way.
The accused persons were not allowed to enter plea on the amended charge.
Mr Omiya told Court that the state was already done with inquiries into the case adding that they intend to commit the suspects to high court for trial.
He also presented to court indictments that were read in for the suspects.
The state told court that the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) proposes to adduce three exhibits in court to prove their case against the suspects.
The exhibits include Photographs of three damaged vehicles; photographs of vehicles used in committing offences, four pieces of stones recovered and Police form 24 for each of the accused persons.
“… Prosecution shall contend that the accused persons have no valid defence for the charge and pray to court that each of the accused person be convicted as charged,” Omiya told court.
Mr Kintu accordingly in his ruling committed the accused to high court for trial.
“It’s a known rule of practice that when inquiries are complete and the indictment is ready; the court exercises its powers to have the accused committed in court. In this case let all those accused be committed to the High Court as the law requires,” Mr Kintu said.
But the accused defence lawyer Caleb Alak contended that the suspects could not be committed to High Court for trial before naming the witnesses they intend to summon in the trial.
He further contended that it’s the obligation of the accused as enshrined in section 75 of the Trial and Indictment Act to name their witnesses before being committed for trial.
Mr Caleb said the accused have 14 people they intend to call as witnesses.
They include President Museveni, former Special Force Command Commandant Gen Don Nabasa, NRM Secretary General Kasule Lumumba, Deputy NRM Secretary General Richard Todwong, NRM Vice Chairperson Northern Sam Engola and Justice Simon Byabakama Mugenyi Electoral commission Chairperson.
Others are Sam Rwakojo Secretary Electoral Commission, Former Arua Municipality Retruning Officer Ruth Achieng, undisclosed witnesses from Pacific and Royal Hotel in Arua Municipality, Former Arua Regional Police Commander Jonathan Musinguzi, and former Arua District Police Commander. Former District Internal Security Officer [DISO] and Regional Internal Security Officer [RISO] of Arua District and former candidate in Arua Municipality By-election Nusura Tiperu.
Mr Caleb also noted that before the trial kicks off, they want to inspect all the exhibits the prosecution intends to adduce in court including the damaged cars, four pieces of stones and pieces of glasses which were allegedly shattered from the president’s car.
Mr Kintu, however, said Mr Alaka’s submission will be handled at the High Court when hearing starts.
He also said the committal to High Court had over taken his decision to make a ruling on the accused properties being detained by police in Arua adding that the matter will also be handled at High Court.
Mr Kintu subsequently issued criminal summons against Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine and Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake and eight others who didn’t attend court. He adjourned court to August 6 when all the 37 suspects will appear at High Court.