Court to rule on sheikhs trial on April 4

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The High Court has set April 4 to deliver its ruling on whether the 14 men accused of assassinating several top Muslim leaders in the country have a case to answer.

This followed the closure of submissions by both the defence and the prosecution yesterday. The defence lawyers called on court to find that the suspects have no case to answer while the prosecution submitted that there is sufficient evidence to put the accused on full trial.

“The panel will now retire to consider the written submissions and all the authorities cited and relied upon by both parties and will deliver its ruling on April 4, 2017. The accused persons are further remanded until then,” announced the lead judge Ezekiel Muhanguzi of the three-member jury of the High Court’s International Crimes Division.

If the court rules that the suspects have no case to answer, they will be discharged and free to go home. Should the court find they have a case to answer, they will be asked to start defending themselves against the charges and will be returned to prison pending further hearing of the case.

Fourteen men, including the head of the Tabliq sect Sheikh Yunus Kamoga are accused of killing several rival Muslim leaders between 2012 and 2015. They are also charged with terrorism and attempted murder of Prince Kassim Nakibinge and Dr Haruna Jjemba.
The assassinated Muslim leaders include Sheikh Mustafa Bahiga who was shot at Bwebajja Mosque, and Sheikh Hassan Kirya, who was gunned down at Bweyogerere in Wakiso District.

The defence lawyers yesterday argued that none of the prosecution witnesses had testified that any of the accused committed terrorism.
The defence lawyers comprised MacDosman Kabega, Fred Muwema, Friday Roberts Kagoro and Twaha Mayanja.

“Terrorism is a capital offence…. but surprisingly, there isn’t any serious evidence, which was laid before court to show that the accused participated in any acts of terrorism particularised in the indictment,” the defence team submitted.

They also said Mustafa Bahiga did not make any dying declarations implicating Sheikh Kamoga in shooting him at Bwebajja Mosque as alleged by the prosecution witnesses.

The defence team disputed the testimony of one of Bahiga’s sons who told court that he heard his father’s dying declaration implicating Kamoga in his father’s shooting.

“It’s our strong submission that Mustafa Bahiga did not make any dying declaration implicating A2 (Sheikh Kamoga). This so- called dying declaration was supported by some of the most incongruous and unreliable evidence you will ever find in a criminal case.

Prosecution Witness 6 (PW6), the son of the deceased who was evidently weighed down by a natural bias against A2 due to his long history of feuding with his father, failed to explain why he did not include the dying declaration in his three statements he made to police and yet he considered it very important.
The claim was clearly an afterthought and a fabrication…” the defence lawyers stated.

However, the prosecution comprised of Principal State Attorneys Lino Anguzu, Thomas Jatiko and Rachael Bikhole asked court to find that all the accused persons have a case to answer and order them to defend themselves.

The prosecution said that before the killings, there were threats to kill the deceased, slanderous campaigns against them in mosques and there were plans to beat them up and pour acid on them. The prosecution said this is enough proof of a terrorism act. They further argued that the murder of Sheikhs Bahiga and Kirya in public using guns was aimed at instilling fear in the populace, an act that amounts to terrorism.

The prosecution said statements Sheikh Kamoga made to a witness that Mustafa Bahiga, Hassan Kirya, Mohammed Kiggundu and Swadiq Ndaula were the strong ones on the rival side and his threat to kill them prove that there was a motive of murder by Kamoga and his co-accused.

Accusation. Fourteen men, including the head of the Tabliq sect Sheikh Yunus Kamoga are accused of killing several rival Muslim leaders between 2012 and 2015.

Other charges. They are also charged with terrorism and attempted murder of Prince Kassim Nakibinge and Dr Haruna Jjemba.
Victims. The assassinated Muslim leaders include Sheikh Mustafa Bahiga who was shot at Bwebajja Mosque, and Sheikh Hassan Kirya, who was gunned down at Bweyogerere in Wakiso District.

No evidence. The defence lawyers yesterday argued that none of the prosecution witnesses had testified that any of the accused committed terrorism.

Different view. The prosecution asked court to find that all the accused persons have a case to answer and order them to defend themselves.

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