Relative and friends of Brigadier Henry Tumukunde have reacted with joy in the wake of the severe reprimand that the General Court Martial handed him on Thursday afternoon.
The relatives who had filled court in Makindye could not hold back their joy and they burst out shouting at the top of their voices after the Chairman of the General Court Martial, Brigadier Fred Tolit read the verdict.
The former director of Internal Security Organisation (ISO) had earlier in the day been found guilty of behaving in a manner contrary to the good order and conduct of the army. The court dismissed the charge of promoting harmful propaganda for lack of evidence.
Even then, the charge for which Tumukunde was convicted carried a maximum sentence of dismissal from the army with disgrace. So his relatives waited in silence for over three hours for the court’s verdict, which finally came sending them into celebrations.
Though court was slated to resume at 3pm, the Chairman was 45 minutes late which heightened tension among relatives who had been denied access to Tumukunde after the conviction.
Though court was still in session, the relatives could be seen giving thumbs up sign to the chairman, Fred Tolit who seemed not to mind the reaction.
Tumukunde’s lead counsel, MacDusman Kabega described the sentence as a long walk to freedom. According to Kabega, the severe reprimand handed to his client was the fairest sentence in the circumstances, given the distinguished service in the Army and the long time he has been on trial.
Arthur Kiiza, Tumukunde cousin welcomed the sentence saying the family had gone through a lot in the last eight years when their relative was making endless visits to the court martial.
Kiiza said the civilians can now have some faith in the court martial.
Another of Tumukunde’s relatives who only identified himself as Ivan said it has been so long and but finally it’s over.
Makerere University students hailing from Rukungiri had been mobilized to attend the sentencing and were seen with placards congratulating Tumukunde on his release.
Hajj Abdu Karim Kironde from Busega praised Tumukunde for having worked a lot during the time of terror activities in Kampala, adding that Government cannot get any hardworking person like Tumukunde.
Before reading out the court verdict, Brigadier Tolit joked with people in court saying that he wished everyday his court was as well attended. The remark drew murmurs but he was not done yet, as he still joked that the numbers of those in attendance would not intimidate court. Tolit then counseled Tumukunde to take the decision in good faith and urged him to be strong and calm saying he had sacrificed a lot for the country.
After the sentencing, Tumukunde was mobbed by friends and relatives congratulating him before he was driven away.
Thus ended the case that started in May 2005, when Tumukunde was charged before the General Court Martial with spreading harmful propaganda and acting in conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline of the army. The first count was contrary to section 38(1) and (2) of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) Act 2005, while the second count was contrary to section 66(1),(2) and (5) of the same law.
The charges for which the former spy chief was prosecuted related to a radio talk show he participated in May 2005. In the talk show on Radio One, Tumukunde, an in-law of President Yoweri Museveni, allegedly criticised his Commander for his move to amend the 1995 Constitution and remove presidential term limits.