The arrest of Tanzania's Freeman Mbowe - who heads the largest opposition party Chadema - on terrorism charges is one that has no basis says ... Anna Henga, the director general of the Legal and Human Rights centre (LHRC). Speaking to The Africa Report, she explains a string of worrisome incidents that have occurred since Samia Suluhu Hassan took over as president.
The treason charges were read to him anew, in the absence of his lawyers, at Nakawa magistrates court on the outskirts of Kampala. Besigye has reportedly decided to go it alone without lawyers.
Last Wednesday, Besigye was arrested after he posted a video of his “swearing in ceremony” as president of Uganda on YouTube and Facebook. He was flown to Moroto, over 300kms northeast of Kampala, where he was imprisoned after briefly appearing in court on treason charges.
On Monday he was transferred to Luzira Prison in Kampala after prosecutors argued that he should be tried in the capital, as his alleged offence was committed in that area.
Treason, being a capital offence, Besigye was not allowed to plead to the charges. Chief Magistrate James Ereemye, who read Besigye’s charges, cautioned him against saying anything, since magistrates’ courts do not have jurisdiction to listen to treason charges.
According to law, a capital offence first needs to appear before a lower court before its transfer to the High Court.
After the treason charges were read to him, Besigye asked court for permission to hear out his grievances, which included mistreatment and lack of basic necessities in prison. But senior state attorney, Doreen Elima requested the court not to entertain his concerns on grounds that such concerns should be raised before the High Court that has jurisdiction over the case.
Besigye fired back, saying his rights were being abused.
If found guilty, Besigye could be imprisoned for life.
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