Kasese MPs (L-R) Kiiza,Robert Centenary and William Znghu addressing journalists in Kampala. (Photo by Kenneth Kazibwe)
- Kenneth Kazibwe
- 1453 times
Members of Parliament from Kasese have revealed that the International Criminal Court has acknowledged receipt of their petition in relation to the killings in the western district at the close of last year.
The UPDF and police on November 27 stormed the Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere Buhikira palace in Kasese town killing over 60 royal guards whereas the king and other guards were arrested.
Over 15 policemen had also earlier been killed by the royal guards in various areas in Kasese district.
Addressing journalists in Kampala on Wednesday, the legislators led by Kasese district MP and also the Leader of Opposition in Parliament Winnie Kiiza said that in response to the December 9th petition, ICC wrote back to their lawyers acknowledging receipt.
"We pray it (ICC) pays due diligence to this petition in relation to the inhumane acts that took place in Kasese," Kiiza told journalists.
In a letter from The Hague dated January 3, 2017 shown to journalists by the MPs, the Head of Information and Evidence Unit in the office of the ICC prosecutor acknowledges receipt of the petition.
"This communication has been duly entered in the Communications Register of the office. We will give consideration to this communication as appropriate in accordance with the provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, “reads part of the response signed by Mark P. Dillon.
The Head of Information and Evidence Unit however, in the letter clarifies that acknowledgment of the letter does not mean an investigation has been opened or guarantees its opening.
"As soon as a decision is reached, we will inform you in writing and provide you with reasons for the decision," adds the letter under reference OTP-CR 442/16. The Petition
The legislators from Kasese told journalists that in the petition, they have included President Yoweri Museveni, Brig.Peter Elwelu and the Police director in charge of operations Asuman Mugyenyi as the people culpable for what they referred to as heinous acts in Kasese.
"We want these 3 people be brought to book for the acts of impunity on the people of Kasese. We therefore invite the ICC to make investigations to these atrocities," Kiiza said.
"We believe these were crimes against humanity that the ICC should look into."
Kiiza said that the petitioners include herself, William Nzoghu(Busongora North),Robert Centenary(Kasese Municipality),Atikins Katushabe(Bukonzho West) Harold Muhindo(Bukonzho East) and one Sande Apollo.
Kasese Municipality legislator Robert Centenary referred to their petition as a bitter pill to swallow but said it was the only thing they had to do in a bid to fight for justice of their people.
"We might pay the price but it is worthy. We need to get justice for the people of Kasese who died. It is our duty to fight for those people who lost their lives during that the incidents in Kasese," Centinary said.
"We are standing firm and focused on our strategy and willing to pay the price."
The group's lead lawyer Sam Muyizzi from Alaka and Company Advocates described it as the only petition he has worked on and has been fully registered by the ICC commending them for it.
He said that their homes and offices have been ransacked by people he termed as state agents but said this could not stop them from pursuing the petition to its tail end.
"I have belief that the state is involved in this matter (attacking him) and I am going to do private investigations into its,"Muyizzi said.
The lawyer said that like a bullet, once fired that cannot be taken back once fired, there is no way they can withdraw the case from the ICC.
On the meeting with president Museveni recently, the Kasese MPs explained that they had let the law take its course in reference to the Omusinga and royal guards arrested for allegedly killing policemen but stressed the petition to the ICC was in relation to the civilians who were killed during the palace attack.
Responding to the development, Government's deputy spokesperson Col Shaban Bantariza said that as government, they had not received communication from the ICC, about the petition and whether or not it has been confirmed for consideration.
Once this communication is made he said, government will respond accordingly.
Bantariza however, hastened to add that the petition by the Kasese Politicians was not in good faith, pointing out that that they in the first place had fermented the crisis in Kasese.
"You remember that after the 2011 elections, the current Leader of Opposition Winnie Kiiza herself said she was going to arm her people and that they were ready to shed blood," said Bantariza.
"Indeed when we went to the Omusinga's Palace, we found that these people were ready to shed blood. The Omusinga had prepared more than 4000 fighters; for what? were they going to fight against mosquitoes?" he queried.
According to Bantariza, the people who filed the the petition to ICC, should be ones facing the charges because they instigated the clashes.
Likewise, Information Minister Frank Tumwebaze described the move by the Kasese MPs as "political posturing."
The politicians, Tumwebaze said, were desperate to cover up the perpetrators of the Kasese clashes.
But this, he said, would not divert government's efforts to bring to book the perpetrators of the rebellion.
"If there is anybody to go to ICC its those people who started the war and killed innocent people. ICC is never there to protect criminals; it is there to fight them," the Minister told us in an SMS.