Police officer Agasirwe wants to be charged separately

Police officer Agasirwe wants to be charged separately
Nixon Agasirwe (L) arrives at the General Court Martial with his co-accused. Courtesy Photo.

Nixon Agasirwe, one of the six senior police officers charged with kidnapping a former bodyguard to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, has asked that his case is heard separately from the other suspects.

Agasirwe, through his lawyer Frank Kanduho applied to the chairman of the General Court Martial Lt Gen Andrew Gutti for the separation of charges, to enable him to present a better defence.

Agasirwe had appeared before the Makindye based court together with eight other persons with whom they are accused of kidnap and being in possession of military weapons.

Charged in the General Court Martial are: Commandant of Police Professional Standards Unit, Senior Commissioner of Police Joel Aguma; Senior Superintendent of Police Nixon Agasirwe, who is a former commander of Police Special Operations and Assistant Superintendent of Police James Magada (Crime Intelligence).

Others are Sgt Abel Tumukunde (Flying Squad), Faisal Katende (Flying Squad) and Amon Kwarisima. Rene Rutagungira, a Rwandese national, and Bahati Mugenga Irunga, a Congolese national, were charged alongside the police officers.

It is alleged that on September 25, 2013, the accused persons kidnapped Lieutenant Joel Mutabazi, a former bodyguard of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, in Kamengo on Kampala–Masaka road and forcefully conveyed him to Rwanda.

Mutabazi was later arraigned in court, accused of terrorism, setting up an armed group, spreading rumours with the intention of inciting the public to rise up against the state, murder, crimes against the state, illegal possession of a firearm and deserting the military.

He was later sentenced to life in prison and stripped of his military ranks by the Military High court in Rwanda.

Four years later, Agasirwe is charged for the crime together with eight other officers. They have all pleaded not guilty to the charges. Agasirwe says a joint trial would be unjust for him. However, the state prosecutor Maj Raphael Mugisha asked the court to grant him leave to study the application by Agasirwe since it has been dropped on him without prior knowledge.

After the suspects took a plea, Maj Mugisha asked the court to adjourn the case to December 11, when the prosecution will be ready to proceed.

However, the request was challenged by the accused lawyers led by Caleb Alaka, Frank Kanduho, Evans Ochieng and Eron Kiiza. The lawyers represented by Alaka told the court that the request for adjournment was intended at humiliating their clients who had already been tortured and treated inhumanely.

The lawyers asked the court to first listen to the bail application of the suspects before adjourning. It was all drama as Alaka, Kanduho and Kizza all went up in arms, each raising a complaint against the state.

Kizza accused the minister of Security Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde of slapping his clients, Kanduho complained about the state’s inefficiency in the court process and Alaka maintained that the state was humiliating its dedicated police officers.

The chairman Lt Gen Gutti, however, brought the court to order and decided that the case is adjourned to December 4 in order listen to the bail application of the nine accused.

The nine suspects have been on remand at Makindye barracks and Luzira prison for the last two weeks. The prosecution alleges that the accused are people subject to military law for using weapons (pistol and grenade) which are ordinarily a monopoly of the army according to the UPDF Act 2005.