Ugandan legislators receive new charges on terrorism over recent vicious murders

Ugandan legislators receive new charges on terrorism over recent vicious murders.

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The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in Uganda, Lady Judge Jane Abodo, has
amended the charge sheet recently written against the country’s Makindye West MP
Allan Ssewanyana and his Kawempe North counterpart, Muhammad Ssegirinya. The
legislators from the opposition party, NUP, were remanded last week on three counts of murder and attempted murder in relation to the string of murders witnessed in the month of August 2021, within Ssetaala and Ssenya villages in Kimanya-Kabonera division located in Masaka city.

On Wednesday afternoon, the DPP introduced new charges to the legislators that are related to terrorism. In a virtual session at the country’s Masaka Magistrates Court, Grade One Magistrate, Grace Wakooli, read out the new charges to the suspects while they were at the country’s Kigo prisons in Wakiso district. The MPs also stand charged alongside four others who were earlier on remanded at another prison on murder related charges.

Details on the charge sheet presented by Richard Birivumbuka, the Masaka
Resident State Attorney, indicate that between the months of January and August
this year, the two legislators and others believed to be their accomplices, allegedly
carried out terrorism activities and aided related sporadic acts of terror. The Court
heard that the accused, with intent to intimidate the public for political, religious,social, and economic gains, allegedly carried out murder and attempted murder of
various persons.

The magistrate did not allow the suspects to air their plea over the charges since
her court lacks the jurisdiction to try capital offences. The state attorney, Birivumbuka, told the court that the investigations into the matter are still ongoing to gather the required evidence that can aid in committing the suspects to the High Court for prosecution. The legislators through their lawyer Shamim Malende in response protested what they termed as a rushed arrest and continued detention, without the presence of evidence against them; their lawyer as a result requested the court to direct the state to expedite investigations into the matter saying that her clients are facing critical health complications that cannot be effectively managed while in prison.

“A-5 and A-6 that I represent were quickly paraded before this court as if evidence to prosecute them was readily available, your worship it is very perturbing that these MPs continue to be incarcerated yet investigations are still ongoing, in that regard , we pray that the state expedites the investigations so that the matter can be concluded. This matter should be given the seriousness it deserves.” She said.

The State Attorney responded by stating that the case was still within the six-month
timeline within which investigations into grave criminal matters can be conducted,
adding that the investigations would be completed soon.

Security has remained tight in Uganda’s Masaka area and Lwengo District, following
sporadic killings that erupted since late July this year. Police spokesperson Fred Enanga last month said 15 suspects, who had allegedly admitted to the killings, had
been arrested.

“They have given us valuable information; where they were recruited from, where they held meetings. These are planned activities. We shall be able to find out the sponsors of these activities,” Mr Enanga said yesterday at the police headquarters at Naguru, Kampala.

The attackers in the killings were said to mostly target the elderly, among the victims were elderly men, known in the communities as opinion leaders and small land holders; most of them reportedly between the age of 50 and 85. Local media in
August 2021 reported that the country’s Internal Affairs Minister, Gen David Muhoozi, revealed that about 69 suspects had been arrested in connection to the string of murders, where at least 28 people were reportedly killed. He said files of at least 11 suspects had been screened, and were to be presented in court.

“A good number of them [suspects] are being processed for appearance in
court so that is as far as the suspects are concerned. Their choice of method to push whatever agenda they are pushing is not tenable because
It is unpopular. You cannot choose to kill Ugandans for whatever reason. It is not justifiable,” he said

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