President Yoweri Museveni’s nemesis and the losing candidate in the recent presidential elections, Kizza Besigye was on Wednesday remanded in custody at the notorious Luzira Maximum Prison until June 1, 2016 after being charged for committing high treason.
The treason charges were read to him anew, in the absence of his lawyers, at Nakawa magistrates court on the outskirts of Kampala. Besigye has reportedly decided to go it alone without lawyers.
Last Wednesday, Besigye was arrested after he posted a video of his “swearing in ceremony” as president of Uganda on YouTube and Facebook. He was flown to Moroto, over 300kms northeast of Kampala, where he was imprisoned after briefly appearing in court on treason charges.
On Monday he was transferred to Luzira Prison in Kampala after prosecutors argued that he should be tried in the capital, as his alleged offence was committed in that area.
Treason, being a capital offence, Besigye was not allowed to plead to the charges. Chief Magistrate James Ereemye, who read Besigye’s charges, cautioned him against saying anything, since magistrates’ courts do not have jurisdiction to listen to treason charges.
According to law, a capital offence first needs to appear before a lower court before its transfer to the High Court.
After the treason charges were read to him, Besigye asked court for permission to hear out his grievances, which included mistreatment and lack of basic necessities in prison. But senior state attorney, Doreen Elima requested the court not to entertain his concerns on grounds that such concerns should be raised before the High Court that has jurisdiction over the case.
Besigye fired back, saying his rights were being abused.
If found guilty, Besigye could be imprisoned for life.