Two days after he was kidnapped by armed men, Vision Group Crime reporter Charles Etukuri through his employers has dashed to the civil division of the High Court filing an application of habeas corpus demanding his immediate release.
Etukuri was abducted outside the New Vision offices on Tuesday at around 2pm by armed men in military camouflage.
Reports indicated that he was shoved into white double cabin car which had ghosted around the media house’s offices from the mid-morning.
New Vision’s legal department today filed a habeas corpus application, which requires a person unlawfully detained to be released or produced before courts of law.
These want “a writ of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum to [be] issued ordering/ requiring the servants, agents or officers of the respondents to produce the body of Charles Etukuri before this honorable court for appropriate orders.”
In the application, the Attorney General who is the government’s chief legal adviser and the Director of General of Internal Security Organization (ISO), the security agency believed to be behind the abduction, have been listed as respondents.
The application has been supported by an affidavit sworn by Jimmy Adriko, a Photo Editor at the New Vision who recounts what transpired before Etukuri was kidnapped.
On February 13, 2018, Adriko says that he was at his work place together with Etukuri and other journalists going about their daily work.
He says the journalist briefed the editors about threats and phone calls he was receiving from security agencies over stories he had previously published.
Etukuri, according to Adriko who was overhearing the conversation, told his superiors that the subject of security agencies were the stories had been published in Saturday and subsequently Sunday Vision under the byline Charles Etukuri titled: “INVESTOR DIES IN CITY HOTEL, ISO MEN IMPLICATED AND SIX ARRESTED OVER INVESTOR DEATH , Finland ex-minister, ISO staff arrested.”
As Etukuri was leaving the New Vision premises at about 2pm, Adriko claims, he personally witnessed several security and other personnel, who he says are agents of the Attorney General, rounding off, roughing, assaulting and later bundling his workmate into a waiting van.
“I decided to contact our security team and legal department who alerted police about the incident,” Adriko says, adding that at about 8am yesterday he received a call from Etukuri who alerted him that he was being held by security operatives and being questioned over “ISO stories”.
Subsequently, he says that the Vision legal department formally wrote to the police CID headquarters in Kibuli in which they also copied in ISO but he says that they have not received any response .
“All efforts to find out where the applicant [Etukuri] is being detained / held have yielded no fruits as no official from the police or government is willing to disclose such information,” Adriko affirms in the case which has been allocated to Justice Lydia Mugambe Ssali.
Adriko understands that it has been over 48 hours and to the best of his knowledge, Etukuri, who is a close associate of police boss Gen Kale Kayihura, has not been produced before any court of law or normally charged with any offence under the law.
“I also verily believe that the continued illegal detention of the applicant [Etukuri ] is in contravention of his right to personal liberty under article 23 of the 1995 Uganda constitution ,” Adriko says, “ That in the circumstances, it has become necessary to seek the intervention of this honorable court to secure the personal liberty of the applicant.”