The Uganda security forces on Thursday re-arrested nine People's Redemption Army (PRA) suspects who had been granted bail. The brutal arrest within the High court premises in Kampala degenerated into a scuffle where many people were injured including a defense attorney.
The suspects who are charged of treason along with the opposition FDC leader Kiiza Besigye have been in illegal detention after armed men who threatened to re-arrest them foiled an earlier bail gratnted in November 2005.
Elias Lukwago is an opposition member of parliament and one of the lawyers of the suspects. VOA reporter Douglas Mpuga reached him in London and asked about this disregard of a court order.
Mr. Lukwago said the issue of illegal detention of these people has been before the Constitutional court before. "That court ruled that their [suspects] continued detention was a violation of the constitution. He described the situation as sad, 'we have heard that these suspects are now going to be charged with murder but they have been in jail since 2002, we do not know who was killed or when.”
Lukwago said one of the lawyers for the defense Mr. Kiyemba Mutale was assaulted and injured by one of the security personnel deployed at the court. “Imagine a lawyer being assaulted by these people in court premises; we lawyers are officers of the court and we cannot do our work in such an environment,” he said.
He said the law society and all judicial officers consider this action as an assault on the judicial system. “It is a trend. This is the second time security personnel have invaded the High court and it is now clear that the independence of the judiciary is at stake.”
He promised to continue fighting for the release of these people “ we shall use every available legal means to have them released.”
Mr Lukwago also appealed to all law-abiding citizens to condemn this act by the executive that has continued to ignore court orders. “The government claims it is abiding by the rule of law; that is not true, it's mere lip service. There is no rule of law in Uganda.”
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