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Judge resigns from treason trial of Uganda opposition leader

[JURIST] Ugandan High Court Justice John Bosco Katutsi [official profile] on Friday became the second judge to withdraw from the trial of opposition presidential candidate Kizza Besigye [BBC profile] for treason [JURIST report], citing primarily health reasons related to high blood pressure. Katutsi, who presided over Besigye’s trial for a rape charge [JURIST report] in which a jury recommended a not guilty verdict [JURIST report] on Wednesday, also attributed his withdrawal to allegations that he would favor Besigye since they come from the same area of Uganda. Besigye's defense lawyers contend that intimidation from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni [official website; BBC profile] and his government forced Katutsi to step down and will prevent Besigye from receiving a fair trial. If Besigye is convicted of any charges, his candidacy for president in the February 23 election will be nullified, assuring a third term for Museveni, who originally assumed power in a 1986 coup. According to court officials, the trial will begin on February 15 with a new judge presiding. AFP has more.

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