Chief Justice Katureebe says he did not know that opposition Kizza Besigye had been arrested and imprisoned at Luzira on treason charges.
Besigye was arrested in Kampala on May 11 for allegedly swearing in as the ‘People’s president’ and flown to the north-eastern district of Moroto where he was detained.
He was charged at the Moroto Chief Magistrates Court and remanded to Moroto government prison before being transferred to Luzira prisons.
In his letter to Francis Gimara, the president of the Uganda Law Society, Katureebe said he would not have even known about Besigye’s detention had the opposition leader not written to him from prison.
On May 30, Besigye wrote to the Chief Justice expressing concerns about his continued arrests, unfair trials and the fact that Luzira could become his death trap as he was prone to poisoning.
In his June 21 letter, Gimara also wrote to the Chief Justice demadnign to know whether Katureebe had responded to Dr Besigye’s concerns about the administration of justice in the country.
In his letter to Gimara dated June 23, Katureebe assured Besigye that his treason case will be conducted before a properly constituted court and the proceedings will be open.
Katureebe also assured Dr Besigye that he has made it clear to the Executive that the Judiciary will only be guided by the law in handling any matters before it.
“On June 17, I responded to Dr Besigye’s letter. I assured him that the Judiciary would ensure that his trial takes place in an open court established by law and would be in accordance with the law and established procedures,” Katureebe states in his letter to ULS.
“On the same day (June 17), I wrote to the Deputy Chief Justice (Steven Kavuma), enclosing a copy of Dr Besigye’s compliant. My emphasis to all has been that courts must adjudicate on these matters in full compliance with the law and known established procedures so that justice is not only done but seen to be done and the right to a fair trial is non-derogable.”
He referred to the constitution of Uganda saying the rule of law would prevail.
“I had already raised Dr Besigye’s concerns to the concerned members of the Executive to whom I have made clear that the Judiciary will only be guided by law in handling any case before it,” Katureebe continues.
On 8th June, Katureebe received a letter from the Director of Public Prosecutions, seeking that he invokes his powers under section 7 of the Magistrate’s Court Act to transfer criminal case No. 332/2016, Uganda Vs Dr Kizza Besigye from LDC court where it should have been lodged to Kasangati court where apparently it was being prosecuted.
“I declined to grant that request because I was not satisfied that the interests of justice envisaged in that section would be realised,” Katureebe notes.