Kampala, Uganda | AFP |
Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye should be tried for treason in court and not a high security prison as the prosecution had requested, a Kampala court ruled on Wednesday.
Besigye, who claimed fraud after coming second in February’s presidential election, was arrested last month for holding a mock swearing-in ceremony and charged with treason.
— Michael O’Hagan (@micoh) June 15, 2016
He appeared briefly in court on Wednesday before being returned to the maximum security Luzira Prison in the capital Kampala, with his next court appearance set for June 29.
“The court ruled that Besigye continues to be tried in the court where he was arraigned,” judiciary spokesman Solomon Muyita told AFP Wednesday.
It turned down an application, “to have him tried inside Luzira prison over what the state calls security concerns,” he said.
Besigye was arrested in Kampala on May 11 after staging his own inauguration ahead of President Yoweri Museveni’s swearing in.
He was then whisked to a northern town and charged with treason before being brought back to the capital a few days later.
Treason is a capital offence in Uganda, but the death penalty has not been carried out for years. Besigye was earlier charged with treason in 2005 and the case was eventually dropped.
A long-standing opponent of Museveni, Besigye has been frequently jailed, placed under house arrest, accused of both treason and rape, tear-gassed, beaten and hospitalised over the years.
Museveni seized power at the head of a rebel army in 1986 and has ruled the country since. His victory in February’s poll marked the start of his fifth term in office and fourth decade in power.