State Minister for Labour, Mwesigwa Rukutana, has this Tuesday morning been remanded for one week pending completion of investigations into last week’s political violence in Rushenyi, Ntungamo district.
Rukutana today appeared at Ntungamo Magistrate’s Court where his lawyers led by Owen Murangira applied for his bail.
The lawyers argued that Rukutana has a well-known place of abode and that the charges against him were bailable.
These include threatening violence, attempted murder, assault causing bodily harm and malicious damage.
The lawyers also presented former Information Minister Jim Muhwezi, businessman Bob Kabonero and Igara East County MP Michael Mawanda as sureties for Rukutana.
Murangira described the sureties as “substantial”, urging court to free Rukutana.
However, the state pleaded for more time to complete investigations into the Rushenyi incident.
Prosecution claimed Rukutana would interfere with the probe hence the need to keep him in jail.
Asked by Chief Magistrate Sarah Mponye Kolya how much time they needed to conclude their investigations, the state attorney responded: “Two weeks.”
Citing Uganda Vs Kiiza Besigye (NO. 20 of 2005) ruling, Rukutana’s lawyers argued that a mere allegation that Rukutana would interfere with elections was not enough ground to deny him bail.
“The applicant should not be deprived of his/her freedom unreasonably and bail should not be refused merely as a punishment as this would conflict with the presumption of innocence. The refusal to grant bail should not be based on mere allegations,” determined the Constitutional Court on September 25, 2006.
“The grounds must be substantiated. Both High Court and the subordinate Courts have discretionary powers to set bail conditions which they deem reasonable, though this must be done with caution.”
Rukutana’s lawyers also argued that the affidavit sworn by an investigating officer requiring more time was not submitted to court earlier but simply smuggled into the courtroom.
Nevertheless, Magistrate Mponye said a ruling on the bail application will be issued on September 15.
It remains unclear where Rukutana will be jailed.
On Monday, Ntungamo Grade One Magistrate Nazifah Namayanja remanded Rukutana to Kakiika Prison in Mbarara.
However, there are reports that Rukutana could be taken to Kitalya Prison along Mityana road.
Prosecution alleges Rukutana, who is also the MP for Rushenyi Constituency on September 5, 2020 at Kagugu Village in Ntungamo district, unlawfully attempted to cause the death of one Daniel Rweiburingi.
The State also claims the minister damaged the victim’s vehicle number UAR 840X and also verbally threatened to kill him.
Rukutana said his son and a Reverend were blocked from accessing a road by men who were driving a Rav 4 car, leading to his intervention.
“At no point did the Minister or his bodyguard release any bullet. The weapons of the Minister’s guard and his weapons were all retrieved by police and are available for inspection and the truth shall be established that the weapons never released any bullet nor is there any shell of any bullet at the scene,” said Rukutana’s lawyers.