Treason trial of Uganda opposition leader resumes

Treason trial of Uganda opposition leader resumes

[JURIST] The treason trial of Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and ten other opposition members resumed Monday, after a year-long delay following the voluntary withdrawal of two judges. Besigye, who has been charged [JURIST report] with plotting to forcefully overthrow the Ugandan government between 2001 and 2004, has maintained his innocence and says that the charges against him are politically motivated.

Prosecutors allege that Besigye is affiliated with the People's Redemption Army (PRA) [Wikipedia backgrounder], which the Ugandan government says operates from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The existence of the PRA is disputed, and the Ugandan government has been accused of fabricating the group's existence to support its crackdown on political opponents. In March, Ugandan judges went on strike [JURIST report] to protest an incident in which government security agents surrounded a courthouse, rearrested six opposition supporters who had been charged with treason but granted bail, and beat a defendant's lawyer unconscious. The incident also prompted lawyers to strike [JURIST report] and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni [BBC profile] promised to implement more transparent procedures for making arrests [JURIST report]. BBC News has more. From Uganda, The Monitor has local coverage.