The Anti-Corruption court has rejected minister for Karamoja Affairs Mary Gorreti Kitutu's plea challenging her trial in the iron sheets scandal on grounds of alleged torture.
Lady justice Jane Okuo Kajuga, presiding over the court today Tuesday, dismissed Kitutu's application, stating it lacked substantial evidence and contained falsehoods, as per consistent statements from police officers that the minister was not subjected to any form of torture or coercion, contrary to her claims.
Kitutu, along with her brother Michael Naboya Kitutu and personal assistant Joshua Abaho, face charges for diverting over 10,000 prepainted iron sheets from the intended Karamoja Community Empowerment Program for personal and third-party benefits.
Kitutu alleged torture during her time in police custody. She detailed an incident where directives from the Office of the Prime Minister, she was summoned to meet the CID director but was instead arrested and interrogated by multiple officers, claiming denial of legal representation.
She further accused authorities of withholding food and water, subjecting her to various forms of torture, including blindfolding and a night-time search for iron sheets in Kayunga district. Kitutu also alleged a targeted media campaign against her, portraying her negatively, hindering her fair trial, and compromising her rights.
She requested the court to dismiss the charges against her based on these claims. However, the court, represented by state attorney Johnson Natuhwera and DPP's Jonathan Muwaganya, dismissed Kitutu's claims, presenting police officers as witnesses to counter her allegations.
Justice Kajuga ruled that there was no substantiation of abuse or portrayal of guilt in the media, maintaining that as a minister overseeing Karamoja, her involvement in investigations was anticipated and legitimate. While acknowledging media reporting's importance, Kajuga directed investigative authorities to refrain from conducting investigations through media channels.
"She was not singled out nor is there any report that says she is guilty. As the minister responsible for Karamoja it is expected that she would be at the centre of the investigations. The media cannot be gagged from reporting matters of public concern fairly,” said Kajuga.
She concluded that Kitutu's claims lacked credibility, dismissing the allegations of torture and rights violations during the investigations.
"In light of the foregoing, I dismiss the applicant's claims that she was intentionally forced to sit on a stool the whole night as an act of torture for the purposes specified in the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act,” said Kajuga.
This decision allows Kitutu to proceed to trial in the iron sheets case, previously halted pending the ruling on her torture claims.