MARCH 1,2006 PAGE 35. UGANDA BEISGYE CLEARED OF RAPE CHARGES
Court in the Uganda capital, Kampala, has cleared the country’s opposition leader, Kiza Besigye of rape charges. The judge said the prosecution had been “crude and amateurish”. Besigye classified the charges against him a political motivated.
However, he still faces reason charge in the high court, while the army is also bent on having him tried on terrorism and weapons charges.
His lawyers have lodged a legal challenge to his recent election defeat to President Yoweri Museveni. A higher court ruled the army had no jurisdiction to try a civilian on terror and weapons charges, but the state is appealing against that case, although in a slight u-turn, the prosecutor at the court marital has told the press that Dr Besigye has not been summoned.
Delivering judgment in the rape case. The judge said, “ The state has dismally failed to prove its case against the accused.”
“This case had adversely affected me, my family and the FDC party as indeed it was intended,” Dr Besigye said after the judgment.
“I intend to seek legal redress for the malicious prosecution – any compensation accruing from this will be donated to women’s organizations dedicated to fight the abuse of women.”
During the trial, the court heard that President Museveni himself had instructed the police to investigate the alleged 1997 rape; It also heard that the alleged victim and a key witness were housed and looked after by the state for several years. His treason trial is due to start on March 15.
Dr Besigye’s lawyers on Thursday filed a petition challenging the result of the previous month elections. He say the polls were manipulated and many of his supporters were prevented from casting their ballots.
Dr Besigye used to be Mr. Museveni’s personal doctor and were allies in the guerilla war that brought Mr. Musevenito power but the pair fell out and was also election rivals in 2001. After losing that poll, Dr Besigye fled Uganda, saying he feared for his life and only returned last year.