State asks for more time to establish Rutabana’s whereabouts

The government Attorney General on Thursday asked High Court in Kampala for more time to get all the responses in writing from security agencies which are suspected to have Mr Benjamine Rutabana in their custody.

Uganda People’s Defence Forced (UPDF) in their response to the Writ of Habeas Corpus, signed by Brig Gen Kagoro Asingura, said that Mr Rutabana is not in their custody.

“…in obedience to the writ do satisfy and return that Benjamine Rutabana is not known to Uganda People’s Defense Forces hence not in our custody,” reads the reply in part.

Another document of the same signed off by the Senior Commissioner of police, Commandant SID, Mr Womanya Elly retaliated the information served by the army representative in court.

“…in obedience to the writ that Rutabana is not in the custody of police at special investigations division Kireka,” in part reads the statement.

However, Dr David Mushabe, who filed the application for a production warrant on behalf of Rutabana’s family, rejected the response from Brigadier General Kagoro, saying he can’t speak on behalf of UPDF because the court orders were issued against specific individuals.

“All the defendant should answer in writing, no single office should answer for the other offices,” he said.

Justice Esta Nambayo who presided over court adjourned court until March 5, 2020 and asked the Attorney General to follow up and ask the fore-mentioned security agencies to reply in writing.

The Attorney General’s representative, Brian Musota asked for more time to consult other security heads on whether or not Lutabana is locked up in any Ugandan facility.

Last week, Justice Nambayo ordered several security agencies including the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and Internal Security Organisation (ISO) to produce Rutabana, a French citizen who was allegedly arrested last year, for trial.

Rutabana was allegedly arrested in Kampala in September last year by plainclothes men who identified themselves as being operatives from CIM.

It’s alleged that he was taken Mbuya CMI headquarters and taken to ISO, back to CMI and where after his whereabouts are not known.

“It is ordered that a writ of habeas corpus doth issue directed to ISO, CMI, Inspector General of police, Attorney General, commandant special investigations bureau and director of investigations that the body of Mr Benjamine Rutabana be produced in court,” reads in part the court order.

Following the disappearance of Rutabana, his family wrote to the French embassy in Uganda and to the Foreign Affairs ministry on October 28, 2019 but this did not yield to any positive results of finding him.

They also approached International Relief and Human Rights Initiative (IRHRI) for assistance in tracing for their missing relative.

Following investigations by IRHRI, it was established that Mr Rutabana had flown to Uganda on or about September 8, 2019 on passport number 16DA52086.

It was later learnt that Mr Rutabana had been arrested and held for interrogation to establish the purpose of his visit to Uganda.

A statement signed by Mr Greg Simith Heavens, the president of IRHRI on February 16, showed that the Attorney General had explained to the court about the tireless efforts they had put in to ensure that Mr Rutabana is released to his family.

“On behalf of IRHRRI and on my own behalf, I would like to thank the government of Uganda for observing the rule of law. Rutabana and IRHRRI will be Uganda’s witnesses that it’s not a torturing state,” Mr Greg said.

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