Over 500 suspects of the July 5th attacks that rocked the Rwenzori region districts of Kasese, Bundibugyo and Ntoroko have completed their quest for amnesty.
The suspects, who surrendered in July following a call by government promising amnesty, have been undergoing a three months rehabilitation exercise in Nuyo Camp Maliba Sub-county in Kasese District.
They were trained in leaving by co-existence, financial management, patriotism, humanity and the constitution of Uganda.
Yesterday, the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura handed over amnesty certificates to 542 returnees with a pledge for guaranteed security as they return to their respective homes.
“Security will be provided by both Police and the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) to make sure no harm is inflicted upon you and incase of any threats you should report to police immediately,” Gen Kayihura said while officiating the ceremony.
While the 542 returnees are now free to return home, if investigations which are still in progress place them in any other crime committed on any other day other than the July 5th 2014, they can be arrested and prosecuted.
July 5th was the first day of the attacks which took close to a week with more than 50 people reported dead and a number of police officers also killed.
Irene Kalisa, the Amnesty Commission representative in Western Uganda says, “The returnees can be assured of full protection by the commission but only for acts committed during the July 5th attack in the region.” Police has also recovered up to 21 guns that the institution lost during the attacks.
“With cooperation of the returnees and some of the suspects arrested, we have been able to recover 21 guns that were robbed from police officers, police posts and UPDF officers in the attacks,” Dennis Namuwooza, the Regional Police Commander Rwenzori region said.
More than 130 suspects arrested during the attacks have since been paraded before the general court martial chaired by Major Gen Levi Karuhanga facing charges of murder, attempted murder, illegal possession of fire arms and ammunition for their participation in the attacks.
The court martial took over the prosecution of the suspects in accordance with Section 119 of the 2005 UPDF Act which says, ‘civilian can be tried in a Court Martial if found in illegal possession of arms, ammunition or any other stores that are ordinarily a monopoly of armed forces or if a civilian abets a member of Defence forces to commit a service offence.’
However the trial is being challenged on ground that the court martial has no jurisdiction in the trial of civilians.
The returnees through their camp leader Bwambale Vincent requested the government to carry out an independent inquiry on the attacks for objectivity. They claim that some of the allegations raised were mere speculations brought up by politicians and ill intentioned people.