By Reta Raymond
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
KAMPALA, Uganda – In the wake of the much publicized death of Col. Edison Muzoora, several Forum for Democratic Change (“FDC”) party officials have been arrested, some of them by the Ugandan military, the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (“UPDF”). Seven suspects have been detained for nearly two weeks, and on 27 June five were charged with treason, a civil offense under Section 23 of the Ugandan Penal Code Act. FDC Secretary of Defence and Security Maj. (rtd) John Kazoora believes that “the government is becoming paranoid and they want to silence the opposition using these arrests. .. If [the detainees] have a case to answer [for] they should be produced in court.”
FDC Bushenyi District Chairperson William Mukaira, 83 was arrested on 19 June by the UPDF, but has not yet been charged. Mukaira was last reported to be at Mulago Hospital in Kampala where he is recovering from undisclosed health deterioration after being detained at an UPDF military detention facility.
Dr. Aggrey Byamaka, a pharmacist and FDC officer from Mbarara Municipality, was also arrested by the UPDF on 16 June, and was taken to the Second Division Army Barracks in Mbarara. Byamaka’s wife, Doreen, asked the UPDF forces why he was arrested and where they were taking him. The officers told her to follow them in her car but she was turned away at the UPDF headquarters gate. Nine days later, Mrs. Byamaka still had not been able to find her husband. She told reporters, “I can’t rest, I can’t settle. Wherever he is rumored to be detained, I try to connect there, but I have not succeeded. We don’t know if he is dead or alive.”
Byamaka has not been charged yet, despite a court order issued Friday for the government to produce him on Monday, 27 June with the other suspects. Upon failing to produce Byamaka, State Attorney Susan Odongo reported to the court that “the Director of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence has filed a return this morning stating that the applicant is in the custody of the police. We have been trying to receive instructions from the IGP and the director CID, but they were engaged in a meeting.”
Col. Muzoora deserted the UPDF in 2003, and fled to Rwanda where he served as an operations and field commander of the rebel group the People’s Redemption Army. On 27 May Muzoora’s body was left outside his Bushenyi home in Uganda, wrapped in white sheets, having been preserved for several weeks. “Our preliminary investigations reveal that Col Muzoora sneaked into Uganda on May 5, 2011 from a neigbouring country… After he entered the country, he went directly to the home of William Mukaira in Bushenyi,” stated Internal affairs minister, Hilary Onek. The prosecution believes that those charged were conspiring with Muzoora, among others to overthrow the government with a force of arms.
Daily Monitor – State slaps treason case on six suspects – 28 June, 2011.
Daily Monitor – Muzoora’s death puts two on the spot – 25 June, 2011.
All Africa – Uganda: Army, police deny they have Byamaka – 22 June, 2011.
The Observer – Government explains Col. Muzoora’s death – 22 June, 2011.
Daily Monitor – Tension as FDC officials are arrested by military – 19 June, 2011.