Kampala. The judgment of the trial of 14 Muslims accused of assassinating rival sheikhs and other Muslim leaders has been fixed for August 11.
The three-member trial panel of the International Crimes Division of the High Court set the judgment date after three court assessors delivered their unanimous opinion advising the judges to acquit all the 14 accused of all the charges.
Former leader of the Tabliq Muslim faith, Sheikh Yunus Kamoga and others are accused of assassinating rival sheikhs Mustafa Bahiga at Bwebajja Mosque on Entebbe Road, Ibrahim Hassan Kirya in Bweyogerere near Kampala and others in diverse places about three years ago.
The three assessors unanimously said the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt to link the 14 men to the assassinations.
The assessors’ opinion was read to court by one of them, Mr Robert Lubega Sseguya who said prosecution failed to prove the terrorism and attempted murder charges against all the 14 accused. Other assessors are; Ahmed Dumba and Judith Muhairwe.
“It’s our opinion therefore that the prosecution has not proved all the ingredients of the charges above and we advise court to acquit all the accused persons,” Mr Lubega submitted.
The trial is headed by Justices Ezekiel Muhanguzi, assisted by two judges, Jane Kiggundu and Percy Tuhaise.
The assessors’ opinion, however, is not binding on the judges’ final verdict as it can be adopted or rejected.
On the murder of Sheikh Bahiga, the assessors pointed out what they deemed “sharp contradictions” in the testimonies of three witnesses regarding the deceased’s dying declarations.
They cited the evidence of Bahiga’s son who told court that on the fateful day of December 28, 2014, he heard his father saying; “Kamoga, you have killed me”.
They observed that in the evidence of Ms Elizabeth Kabahinda, a billing clerk at Namulundu Medical Centre where Bahiga had been rushed for first aid after the shooting, she heard Bahiga in his dying declarations say “do not take me through this pain. I know I am going to die. Kamoga, is this what you have decided to do? Let me die for my religion.”
The third witness to testify on Bahiga’s dying declarations was Dr Emmanuel Muwema of the same clinic.
In his testimony, Dr Muwema told court that he heard Bahiga murmur some words in Arabic which he didn’t understand.
Evaluating the evidence of the three witnesses, the assessors said they were contradictory though they believed the evidence of Dr Muwema since he was the nearest person to Bahiga than his son and the billing clerk.
On the murder of Sheikh Kirya, the assessors said at the time of the shooting in June 2015, all the accused persons were already in Luzira prison and there was no way they could have participated in his murder.