Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Nakawa Chief Magistrate, Ruth Nabaasa has ordered the immediate release of Mityana Municipality Member of Parliament, Francis Zaake Butebi. Nabasa ordered Zaake’s release on grounds that he had been under illegal detention for more than 48 hours which violates various constitutional rights.
She therefore directed the Attorney General, Inspector General of Police and the Commandant of Special Investigations Unit of Police to release the legislator immediately. Nabasa’s ruling followed an application filed by Zaake’s lawyers led by Eron Kiiza and Abdullah Kiwanuka.
They told court that their client has been under detention without charge ever since he was arrested on April 19th, 2020. They also argued that Zaake was hospitalised at the Iran Uganda Hospital under tight police watch despite his sickness adding he was denied access to any other person other than his wife, Bridget Namirembe.
During the hearing, the Attorney General’s representative, Johnson Natuhwera opposed the application saying Zaake is hospitalized and not in police custody as claimed. He also argued that the government’s intention wasn’t to keep Zaake in custody beyond 48 hours since the charges against him had already been sanctioned by the DPP but he fell sick.
However, Zaake lawyers dismissed the state submission saying their client was under police guard wherever he was and back their submission with evidence provided by Zaake’s wife. The ruling by Nabaasa came minutes after Zaake was arraigned before the Mityana Chief Magistrate, Elias Kakooza for his alleged involvement in an act likely to spread coronavirus and disobeying lawful presidential directives aimed at stemming the spread of coronavirus.
However, Kakooza didn’t allow Zaake to plead to the charges owing to his ill health. He directed that the MP be transferred immediately to a medical facility until such a time when he is fit to plead to the charges. Zaake’s lawyers Abdullah Kiwanuka, says the ruling by the Nakawa Chief Magistrate means that their client will not plead to the charges in Mityana magistrate’s court.
He explains that in the event that Zaake takes plea, all that has been done becomes illegal because court has already made a declaration that he has been in illegal detention for more than the mandatory 48 hours. The lawyers have now gone to Police headquarters to serve them with the order in question.