1 March 2018

Uganda: Muslim Clerics Trial Stalled By Absent Witnesses

The absence of prosecution witnesses on Thursday morning stalled the trial of 19 suspects including Muslim clerics who are already serving life imprisonment on other crimes charged with plotting to overthrow the government.

Prosecution led by Ms Rachael Bikhole told the High Court in Kampala that they had failed to get in touch with the witnesses who had been summoned to testify.

"We had summoned three witnesses and confirmed their attendance in court today. But we failed to get in touch with them this morning. We regret to inform court that we have no witness today, we pray for an adjournment," said Ms Rachael Bikhole, the state attorney.

However, the suspects through their lawyers disagreed with the application for adjournment accusing the state of being unjust. They asked court to grant the last adjournment to a nearby date.

"There is no proof that the witnesses were duly served and we have time and again come ready to prosecute this matter in vain. Any adjournment affects the accused persons because they are in prison," argued Mr Robert Friday Kagoro, one of the suspects'lawyers.

The suspects include two Muslim clerics, Amir Kinene and Sheikh Murta Bukenya who were jointly convicted with former Tabliq leader Amir Umar Mohammed Yunus Kamoga for terrorism in August last year.

They were sentenced to life imprisonment upon conviction on charges of terrorism regarding the assassinations of Muslim clerics. They have since appealed against the conviction. They are facing two charges of treason and concealment of treason.

Other suspects are Hakim Kinene Muswaswa, Muzamilu Kasawuli, Arafat Serunjoji alias Bukenya, Alex Okot, Olanya Joseph alias Onekmon, Okidi Charles, Arajab Mubaje alias Magombe Sulaiman, Matanda Issa alias Charles, Haji Byamukama Abdul Ratif alias Tusiime, Ssemwogerere Asadu, Kibirige Solomon, Wadwali Safiyi alias Swafi Shafi, Yusuf Sentamu alias Kasibante, Muhamad Kolodo alias Kasibante, Ssentogo Ismail, Abonga Nick Frank alias Bongomin alias Joshua Alias Jossi and Aisha Nakasibante.

The judge, Wilson Masalu Musene, has adjourned the case to March 5 this year for further hearing of the prosecution witnesses.

"If the witnesses do not come at the next hearing date, court may be inclined to force the state to close its case," he said.

Prosecution case

Particulars of the case state that between January 2013 and June 2015 at various places in Uganda including Kampala, Wakiso, Gulu, Kitgum, Rakai and Jinja districts and other places like Dubai in United Arab Emirates, Kenya and Tanzania, the suspects and others still at large contrived a plot to overturn the government by force and expressed such plot by utterances and overt acts.

The state alleges that during the same time, the suspects knowing that another person intended to commit treason did not give information thereof to the relevant authorities or use all reasonable endeavors to prevent commission of treason.


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