Crime & Investigation

Muslim Clerics Trial Flops Over Witness Intimidation Claims

The panel of 3 judges at the High Court Crimes division in Kampala has adjourned for a month the trial of 32 people accused of masterminding the murder of Muslim clerics last year.

The suspects include Sheikh Yunus Kamoga, sickness Sheikh Siraje Kawooya, link Abdulsalam, Abdulhamid Sematimba, Rashid Jingo, Twaha Sekkitto, Yusuf Kakande alias Abdallah, Sheikh Murta Mudde Bukenya, Kakim Kinene Muswaswa, Muzamilu Kasawuli, Arafa Serunjoji, Badru Bukenya, Alex Okot, Joseph Olanya, and Amir Kinene.

Others are Charles Okidi, Sheikh Fahad Kalungi, Pte Arajab Mubaje, Aisha Nakasibante,  Issa Matanda,  Abdul Ratif Byamukama, Asadu Ssemwongerere, Yusuf Sentamu, Solomon Kibirige, Safiyi Wadwali,  Swafi Shafi, Hamuza Kasirye, , Robert Bampikye, Muhamadi Kalodo, Musa Isa Mubiru, Ismail Ssentongo and Iga George William.

On Monday, the prosecution led by Richard Kamuli told the panel of judges including Ezekiel Muhanguzi, Percy Tuhaise and Jane Kiggundu, that some of their witnesses had been threatened with death whereas others had been assaulted by unknown people.

“The threats are real, we have 3 cases reported to police in relation to this matter and police has opened up files. Last week one of the witnesses was beaten and castrated as the hearing date neared,” Kamuli told court.

“He started with receiving anonymous calls and messages before he was assaulted and castrated by unknown people.”

The prosecutor told court that they needed more time to be able to put in place a witness protection mechanism.

New Evidence

The lead prosecutor told court that they have unearthed new evidence pinning the suspects that he said would be crucial in steering the case adding that there is need for more time to analyse it.

“We need more time to analyze the evidence which in our view will determine the pattern of the prosecution of the case. It may affect the charges against the accused through amendment,” Kamuli said.

“There is need to disclose the new evidence to the defence lawyers. We ask for a month’s time to be able to conclude with the evidence before we kickoff with our case.”

Defence Lawyers Rubbish the Claims

The defence team led by Fred Muwema, Ladislas Rwakafuuzi and Twaha Mayanja however rubbished the claims by the state prosecutors insisting it is only a tactic to delay the case.

“Our colleagues seem not to be serious yet this is one of the biggest criminal cases in the country. It only seems the state preparedness is wanting and only want to keep adjourning the trial,” Muwema told court.

Twaha Mayanja said the allegation of the witness being threatened did not hold any water adding that the said case of castration had been reported in 2014.

The defence lawyer said the prosecutors only want to use it as a scapegoat to delay justice.

The panel of judges however agreed there was a need for more time for the prosecution to examine the new evidence as well as putting in place mechanisms to protect the witnesses.

“The prosecution is warned to be as diligent as possible,” Justice Ezekile Muhanguzi urged the state before adjourning the case to July 18, 2016.

The suspects are accused of masterminding the killing of Sheikh Mustafa Bahiga, (Bwebajja), Sheikh Abdhukhadir Ductor Muwaya (Mayuge) and Sheikh Hassan Kirya (Bweyogerere) late in 2014 and 2015.

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