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Cablegate: Uganda: Peoples' Redemption Army Suspects Granted Amnesty

VZCZCXRO0174
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHKM #1122 1930513
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 120513Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY KAMPALA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9033
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KAMPALA 001122

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT PASS TO USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MOPS ASEC PINS PHUM UG
SUBJECT: UGANDA: PEOPLES' REDEMPTION ARMY SUSPECTS GRANTED AMNESTY

REFERENCE: KAMPALA 2110
KAMPALA 0689
KAMPALA 0367
KAMPALA 1089
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Summary
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1. Nine treason suspects allegedly members of the Peoples
Redemption Army (PRA) were granted Amnesty on July 5. The suspects
are part of the first group of 23 suspects arrested in Ituri
Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in March 2003.
Meanwhile, the High Court failed to produce in court for bail
hearing of the second group of nine suspects who were arrested in
2005 and charged alongside Forum for Democratic Change (FDC)
opposition leader Kizza Besigye. The granting of Amnesty to the
first group of suspects confirms reports of GOU intentions to force
suspects to apply for amnesty rather than prosecute them due to lack
of evidence. The prolonged detention and delays in the justice
system for the two groups remain of great concern. End Summary.

------------------------
Suspects Granted Amnesty
------------------------

2. On July 5, nine of the first group of 23 PRA treason suspects was
granted amnesty. The suspects, who are civilians except for a UPDF
soldier, were detained at Makindye Military Barracks since March
2003. The group appeared in the General Court Martial (GCM) on
April 16, 2003 and was charged with treason. The suspects appeared
in the GCM three times in November 2005; February 2006; Janaury
2007; until the nine sought amnesty on July 5. Of the 23 suspects,
seven others have taken amnesty, two allegedly died in custody while
five remain detained. Of the 22 suspects in the second group
charged alongside FDC's opposition leader in November 2005, 12 have
taken amnesty.

------------------------------------
Prison Fails to Produce PRA Suspects
------------------------------------

3. Meanwhile, on July 9 authorities in Bushenyi District failed to
produce two PRA suspects for bail hearing in Mbarara High Court.
Defense counsel David Mpanga told Emboff that the authorities would
not produce the suspects saying the production warrants were issued
late. Mpanga said the government is not about to release the PRA
suspects, and appears to be bent on using all means possible to
circumvent the justice system. He said they plan to lodge a formal
protest over the way their clients have been treated.
The next hearing of the suspects bail application is scheduled on
July 24. The suspects are currently detained in Luzira Prison,
Kampala.

4. Earlier, in another PRA case on July 4 prison authorities in
Arua District failed to produce seven PRA suspects for hearing of
their bail application. The District State Attorney informed Arua
Court that he did not have instructions on the matter and therefore
was not in position to proceed. The Arua Prison Officer in turn
informed Court that heavy rains had "de roofed" the prison and that
some prisoners, including the PRA/murder suspects had been
transferred back to Luzira prison. He said that is reason the PRA
suspects could not attend the court session in Arua.

5. The defense lawyers protested why the government did not notify
them before they traveled to Arua nor inform Court about the
changes. Caleb Alaka, one of the defense lawyers told Emboff that
he was in Arua and that it was not true that the prison had been
de-roofed as claimed by the prison authorities. He said the reason
why the suspects were not produced was because the court in Arua
would have released the suspects on bail. The suspects are currently
in detention in Luzira prison. The next bail application hearing is
scheduled on July 30.

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

6. The continued detention of the PRA suspects, despite the High
Court ruling to release them on bail and the state interference in
the justice process remain of great concern. It is quite clear that
GOU is not interested in prosecution but wants to keep the suspects
in jail until they apply for amnesty. End Comment.
BROWNING


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