A defence lawyer for the patron of the notorious Boda Boda 2010 gang says the golden gun allegedly recovered from his client was planted on Abdallah Kitatta by people who want him to be convicted.
The new defense was offered by Shabban Sanya when the case came up in the General Court Martial on Tuesday to allow the defence team cross examine Private Richard Kasaija, an operative attached to the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI). Kasaija first testified against Kitatta when hearing kicked off on May 21.
Kitatta is charged with 12 other persons with unlawful possession of firearms and military equipment contrary to section 161 of the UPDF Act. During his May testimony, Kasaija, who joined the army five years ago, told court that he and other eight security personnel picked up Kitatta from a toilet at Vine hotel in Wakaliga in Lubaga division on January 20.
He explained that on searching Kitatta’s hotel room, they recovered a loaded, gold-plated pistol. They allegedly also recovered a sub-machine gun and another pistol with 15 rounds of ammunition from his vehicle parked in the hotel yard -- allegations he repeated yesterday.
“Mr Chairman and honourable court members, at this juncture we pray that cross-examination stops here and we be issued with a court order to enable us bring CCTV footage from Vine hotel and when this court watches it, you will find that there was no golden pistol the witness talks about because we have since looked at the said footage,” said Sanya.
However, prosecutor Maj Raphael Mugisha objected to such a court order, saying that since the defence lawyer was able to see the footage, he too can access it on his own. Lt Col Richard Akatucungura, the judge advocate, advised that the witness be cross- examined.
It was later ruled by court chairman, Lt Gen Andrew Gutti, that hearings be adjourned to August 7. Gutti had warned the defence lawyers to stop fooling and undermining court.
“You may be learned, but try to respect this court because I gave you an hour to fix your mess and you are here wasting court’s time; we want this case to be heard expeditiously and the accused to get justice,” added Gutti.
Earlier, the defence lawyers had also complained that military policemen at Makindye barracks have been constantly refusing them access to their clients. The chairman granted an hour’s adjournment to allow the lawyers to interact with their clients and said the court has never issued an order stopping the lawyers from seeing their clients provided they visit on approved days and during working hours.
When the court reconvened in the afternoon, there was confusion as Kitatta refused to answer whether he is comfortable with the six new members on the panel.
“I gave instructions to my lawyers who must answer whatever question you want to ask me. It is only my boss Gen Gutti whom I know; the rest I cannot comment on them,” Kitatta said.
The judge advocate then advised that the lawyers are not on trial and so they cannot answer for him. A little back and forth followed with Sanya insisting on the names of all members on the panel and praying for another adjournment to investigate, forcing the chairman to order the two lawyers to leave court and organize theirselves from outside.
When the lawyers cooled and said they wouldn’t want to move out in protest, the chairman granted them another chance and cross-examination continued. Out of the three suspects in court yesterday, Kasaija identified Joel Kibirige who they arrested for allegedly obstructing them from arresting Kitatta on January 20.
The other suspects are Matia Ssenfuka, Hassan Ssemata, Jonathan Kayondo, Hassan Ssengooba, Sande Ssemwogerere, John Ssebandeke, Hussein Mugema, Fred Bwanika and Amon Twinomujuni.