Court has Friday dismissed President Yoweri Museveni’s defamation case against former Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) party president Dr. Olara Otunnu.
In her ruling delivered today at Buganda Road Court, Grade One Magistrate Joan Aciro dismissed the case citing prosecution’s failure to produce witnesses to pin Otunnu on charges of defaming President Museveni.
The State had produced only one witness, Journalist Gideon Tumusiime, who testified that he heard Otunnu during defame Museveni at a press conference. But Tumusiime never returned for cross-examination.
“His evidence was not sufficient to prove the allegation. The case is hereby dismissed and the accused set free,” Aciro ruled, adding that court could not depend on the evidence of a single prosecution witness who was not cross examined to convict Otunnu.
In the charges against Otunnu, he allegedly accused Museveni of committing ‘very many crimes’ among which included; atrocities in Luwero and, the massacres of Muslims in Ankole in 1979 when the Museveni was the commander of the Western Axis of anti-Amin forces that was composed mainly of his FRONASA contingent.
Other accusations included the massacre at Ombaci in West Nile in 1981; the scorched-earth counter-insurgency operations and genocide in northern and eastern Uganda between 1986 and 2006 and the ‘wanton killing of unarmed demonstrators on the streets of Kampala’, in September 2009.
Otunnu also reportedly said that several disappearances and mysterious deaths had occurred under Museveni’s watch and authority since the Front for National Salvation’s (FRONASA) struggles to-date, insisting the allegations should be investigated.
His remarks prompted the Attorney General to write to the then UPC president giving him five days to make a public apology for his comments, or face legal action. Otunnu declined to apologise and repeated the same allegations at almost all the subsequent press conferences he addressed.
He also ignored summons to appear before the Media Crimes Department at CIID despite acknowledging receipt of the summons at a press conference he convened at Uganda House, and insisted he would only appear before court.