By Simon Abaho
The treason case that had been slapped against a former four-time presidential candidate, Col (Rtd) Dr Kizza Besigye for allegedly swearing-in himself as the president following the disputed 2016 polls, has been withdrawn,.
The withdrawal of the case was done in December 2019 during Justice Mike Chibita’s reign as the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
“This is to inform court that the Director of Public Prosecutions has decided to discontinue proceedings against Rtd Col Kizza Besigye Kifefe charged with treason,” the withdrawal form signed off by then DPP Chibita reads in part.
Sources said the form was filed before Nakawa Court’s registry, and it was not followed with the formal withdrawal process that involves court convening with the accused person/s present.
Efforts to reach Dr Besigye yesterday were futile. However, one of his lawyers who represented him in the case, Mr Ernest Kalibaala, said he was not aware of the development. He said the case withdrawal could have been done secretly.
“If it was withdrawn, I have never seen the documentation, maybe it was done secretly. I heard about it the other day,” Mr Kalibaala said.
“Usually, when you have a nolle prosequi (the withdrawal form), the accused (Dr Besigye) is made aware of it, you may find that doctor [Besigye] is not aware,” he added.
The treason charges arose after a video clip of the alleged swearing-in went viral on social media on May 11, 2016, on the eve of President Museveni’s swearing-in for the fifth elective term in office.
Dr Besigye was first charged with treason in Moroto District before he was transferred to Nakawa Court in Kampala and charged afresh. Dr Besigye had refused to return to the court, citing delay in concluding investigations and having him committed to the High Court to stand trial.
“This matter has been going on for over eight months and it has extremely constrained me. It is costly both in time and resources moving to this court over charges that are not going anywhere,” he said at his last court appearance in 2017.
“I will respectfully want to inform this court that I will not come back. When investigations are done, they can inform me. I will only come back to this court as a prisoner if they choose to arrest me,” he added.
Then DPP Chibita attributed the delays in concluding the investigations to uncooperative witnesses who allegedly attended Dr Besigye’s swearing-in but refused to record statements with the police.