MP Zaake acquitted of escape from custody

Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake Butebi has been acquitted Escaping from Lawful custody.  Zaake’s acquittal was announced this morning in the Arua Grade One Magistrates Court.

Grade one Magistrate Swaleh Asiku ruled that Zaake has no case to answer adding that there was evidence that the legislator suffered torture in the hands of the Special Forces Command who reportedly arrested him before handing him over to the police.

He also observed that although the law demands that persons facing arrest need to be informed and granted access to a lawyer, Zaake was never granted the rights, yet the persons who arrested him were never produced in court by the prosecution.

He added that if Zaake was under arrest, he should have been accompanied by a Police Form three to Arua Hospital, which was not the case. The magistrate also noted that details of the accused ought to have been captured in the police station diary and later the lock-up register, which was not the case.

He says that the absence of all formalities in the process implies that Zaake was not legally detained. The magistrate also concurred with the Defence team that the accused was in severe pain and suffered injuries on his body by the time he reportedly escaped from Arua Hospital.

Francis Zaake expressed joy at the judgement and commended the magistrate for being objective in the ruling.

Zaake was reportedly arrested in the aftermath of the infamous Arua riots involving supporters of Kassiano Wadri, then a candidate in the Arua Municipality Parliamentary race, who had been accused of pelting stones at the Presidential Convoy.

But according to police, Zaake, collapsed while in police custody and was taken to Arua Regional Referral Hospital. However, he reportedly escaped, only to resurface in Rubaga Hospital, where he was admitted in comatose and with visible wounds all over the body. He was later charged with treason before travelling abroad for treatment.

Zaake’s lawyer Medard Lubega Ssegona said they will now pursue the regional CIID West Nile to pay costs for orchestrating malicious detention and prosecution.

Police detectives and state prosecutor who remained reserved in court declined to comment on the judgement. Many supporters of MP Zaake clad in Red People Power caps kept chanting ‘people power our power’ as they left the court hall after the judgement.