KAMPALA – The International Crimes Division of the High court on Wednesday released six of the Rwenzururu royal guards hours after President Yoweri Museveni had pledged at a function in Kasese that the issues with the Omusinga, Charles Wesley Mumbere would be sorted out.
The arrived in Kasese district on Thursday amidst calls, from the local leaders that government considers withdrawing all charges against the suspects.
The six are part of the more than 200 royal guards, who were arrested in 2016 following a joint security raid on Buhikira palace, in an operation, where more than 100 people – including women and children lost their lives.
The infamous operation, which the then, Brig Peter Elweru commanded, nearly brought life to standstill, especially to the kingdom’s royalists after the Omusinga’s arrested, and arraigning in a Jinja court on various offences, including treason, murder, attempted murder, and aggravated robbery.
Omusinga was later released on bail but restricted to move beyond the boundaries of Kampala, Wakiso, and Jinja districts. In January last year, the court released 138 royal guards on bail. The suspects applied for bail on grounds of ill health and psychological disorders such as stress, resulting from a long stay in prison without trial.
The additional six royal guards released on Wednesday include, Eriya Kule Sibendire, Daudi Bahangondi, Bwambale Bahingana, Julius Masereka Regyeya, Yowas Rubasesera, and Joram Thaghembwa.
Joseph Kule Muranga – the Rwenzurur Kingdom prime minister said that the six years, the suspects had stayed in prison without, was enough punishment; and it would only be just that government considered dropping all charges against them. Muranga said that most of the suspects had aged, and obeyed all the bill conditions and the institution was working towards their rehabilitating.
Muranga noted that on both sides of the government and the cultural institution there were some mistakes committed but the focus should be on how the two parties could reconcile and work together.
Muranga blamed the 2016 skirmishes within the cultural institution on people who fussed it with politics. He hoped that the remaining 61 royal guards would also be released.
While in Kasese on Wednesday, Museveni without divulging details said Omusinga had written to him and the two would see how to sort the out issues. His statement followed demands from local leaders led by the district LCV Eliphazi Muhindi requesting the president to release their cultural leader and the remaining royal guards.
Muranga however said that he did not have any details regarding the said letter but was certain that both the president and Mumbere were communicating.
Additional reporting by URN