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Cablegate: Uganda: Besigye's Detained Brother Granted Bail

VZCZCXRO2375
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHKM #1089/01 1841309
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 031309Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY KAMPALA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8999
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KAMPALA 001089

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT PASS TO USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MOPS ASEC PINS PHUM UG
SUBJECT: UGANDA: BESIGYE'S DETAINED BROTHER GRANTED BAIL

REFERENCE: KAMPALA 2110

KAMPALA 0689
KAMPALA 0367

1. Summary. The High Court finally granted bail and release of
Joseph Kifefe, Dr. Besigye's brother and an alleged member of the
Peoples' Redemption Army (PRA), due to grave illness. The court was
satisfied with the medical reports, which provided grounds for bail
to be granted. Kifefe had spent more than two years in prison on
treason charges despite being granted bail twice by the High Court.
The release of Kifefe was received with relief by sectors of the
public and some government officials who feared he might die in
custody. The High Court, however, refused to hear bail applications
on the murder charges against the remaining nine suspects and
transferred their cases to the circuit areas under jurisdiction of
resident judges in Arua and Bushenyi. End Summary.

-----------------------------------
Besigye's Brother Finally Gets Bail
-----------------------------------

2. On June 13, High Court Judge Caroline Okello granted bail to
Joseph Musasizi Kifefe, one of the alleged PRA suspects and brother
to opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) leader Kizza
Besigye. Kifefe is standing trial for treason in Kampala and facing
murder charges in Bushenyi District. In her ruling, Justice Okello
said she was persuaded by the medical report, which provided grounds
to grant the bail application. Justice Okello further observed that
the state had not advanced reasons as to why the bail application
should not be granted.

3. Kifefe's lawyer, Yusuf Nsibambi, applied for bail on grounds
that Kifefe could no longer stand prison conditions, having been
hospitalized at Mulago Hospital with blood cancer. He told the
court that Kifefe's condition required constant medical supervision.
In his submissions, Nsibambi argued that bail was a constitutional
right. Nsibambi argued that the applicant has a family and home in
Kampala, which is within the jurisdiction of the court. He also
pointed out that the applicant had submitted substantial sureties.
On June 18, Kifefe was discharged from the hospital where he had
spent more than a month in critical condition.

4. Bail was granted with conditions including: reporting to the
High Court Registrar and the officer in charge of Kampala Central
Police Station twice a month, an equivalent of $6,000 (not cash) to
be paid to the registrar, depositing his passport with the High
Court Registrar and he is prohibited from traveling abroad without
court permission. He also must provide a third surety to replace
the one the High Court rejected on grounds that she was facing
charges in the Magistrates' court.

--------------------------------------------- ---
DPP Objected To Bail Hearings For Other Suspects
--------------------------------------------- ---

5. Simon Byabakama, Deputy Director for Public Prosecution, earlier
objected to the hearing of the PRA bail applications, arguing that
as court practice, the particular cases did not fall under the
jurisdiction of the Kampala High Court. He submitted that the cases
should be handled in the circuit areas of Mbarara and Arua,
respectively. Byabakama was in agreement that Kifefe suffered grave
illness, which implied that he had fulfilled bail requirements under
the law.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
Court Transfers Defendants For Bail Hearing to Circuit Courts
--------------------------------------------- ---------

6. Justice Okello ruled that the remaining suspects should be
transferred to the circuit areas under jurisdiction of resident
judges in Mbarara and Arua, respectively. The detainees did not
appear in court although production warrants had been issued. They
are facing murder charges in Bushenyi and Arua districts that were
placed on them after receiving bail on March first.

-------
Comment
-------

7. Government officials were concerned that if Kifefe died in
custody, the GOU would never hear the end of it from international
donors and NGOs. This would have been particularly sensitive in
advance of CHOEM. The circuit courts are yet to set a date to hear
the bail applications of the remaining suspects on the murder
charges. The next key date for the alleged PRA suspects is on July
16. The constitutional court is supposed to rule on the legality of
the March first, court siege by security personnel (reftels), the
simultaneous proceedings against the PRA suspects in the General
Court Marshall (GCM) and the murder charges. End Comment.
BROWNING


KAMPALA 00001089 002 OF 002

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