Security minister Elly Tumwine has said re-arresting of suspects within court premises is not a crime.
Gen. Tumiwne’s remarks follow the re-arrest of suspects charged with the murder of former Police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Andrew Felix Kaweesi on Wednesday at International Crimes Division of High court in Kololo.
Then, security operatives dressed in civilian attire re-arrested Yusuf Nyanzi, Jibril Kalyango, Joshua Kyambadde, and Yusuf Mugerwa together with their lawyer James Mubiru a few hours after their discharge by registrar Esther Nasambu. They had earlier been released on bail by Justice Lydia Mugambe.
Several people and political actors condemned this action by security operatives especially at this time where kidnaps and murder are more than common in the country.
However while appearing nbs TV’s Frontline political talkshow, Gen Tumwine said the move by the security operatives to re-arrest the four including their lawyer was lawful even after the Deputy Chief Justice had maintained that it was highhanded.
In a document issued on Thursday Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo said that the high-handedness which was exhibited by heavily armed operatives was a direct shame to the cherished rule of law in Uganda.
“Over the time Judiciary has noted with concern the increased and persistent cases of interference in the administration of justice by security agencies but the recent action where four suspects were crudely and brutally re-arrested at the precincts of the court was a total shame, however, if such blatant actions continue, sadly people will lose trust and faith in court of judicature which can only result into grave ramifications where people will abandon court and take laws in their hands,” said Dollo.
But Tumwine said: “At first they were arrested by the Police who brought them to the court and the court did its work but because security had other cases on them, Police re-arrested them and because they could easily fight we had to re-arrest them that way.”
He added that Mubiru was lucky not to be shot by Police because he was interfering with their work.
“Who now can describe how arresting should be? Is it the Chief Justice? Everyone should mind their business,” he added.
On the case of re-arresting suspects who had already been served with bail, Tumwine said courts can also make mistakes since they are not operated by angels.
“Scriptures say that all have sinned and fall sort of God’s glory, courts are not manned by angels so is the Police. If there was mistake done, it will be corrected but according to the law, I want to hear if there was any law which was broken that says ‘Police should not re-arrest near or outside courts’. There is no such a law, existing law only prohibits arresting within the court, but outside is a free area for police to arrest anybody so for that matter we have no apologies to anybody. Police was doing its work,” Gen. Tumwine added.
Tumwine’s statements confirm an argument of Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) spokesperson, Brigadier Richard Karemire, who said that four suspects were picked up by joint security forces and are locked up in a certain safe place due to an allegation which came out that they are peace violators.
“Our people deserve peace and security forces will do whatever they can within the laws established to ensure that,” said Karemire.
Kaweesi was assassinated on March 17, 2017 together with his bodyguard Kenneth Erau and driver, Godfrey Mambewa in Kulambiro in Nakawa Division.