The lawyers of 32 National
Unity Platform-NUP supporters battling charges of illegal possession of explosive devices have asked the General Court
Martial to release them on bail.
suspects are Yasin Ssekitoleko alias
Machete, Robert Christopher Rugumayo, Ronald Mayiga, Muhydin Kakooza, Patrick
Mwase, Simon Kijambo, Abdu Matovu, Richard Nyombi, Olivia Lutaaya, Ronald
Kijambo, Sharif Kalanzi, Joseph Muwonge, Mesach Kiwanuka, Abdalla Kintu, Umar
Emma Kato and Musa Kavuma.
Others are Ibrahim Wandera, Asbert Nagwere, Steven
Musakulu, Jimmy Galukande, Paul Muwanguzi, Kenneth Kamanya, Sharif Matovu,
Shafiq Ngobi, Davis Mafabi, Abdallah Hakim Gibusiwa, Livingstone Katushabe
Kigozi, Swaibu Katabi, Obalai Siraji Mudebo, Joseph Muganza and Stanley Lwanga.
accuse the suspects together with others still at large of being found in illegal possession of 13 explosive devices, which are ordinarily the monopoly of the defense
to the prosecution, the suspects committed the offenses between November 2020 and May 2021 in Jinja,
Mbale, Kireka, Nakulabye, Kawempe, Natete, and Kampala Central.
The suspects, who have been on remand
since June 2021 appeared on Monday before Lt. General Andrew Gutti led General Court-martial to get an update on the status of the investigations into the charges against them. Military
prosecutors led by Major Emmy
Ekyaruhanga told the army Court that investigations into the matter are still ongoing and asked the court
for an adjournment until next month.
However, the suspects through their lawyers led by George Musisi protested the prayers by the
prosecution, saying that they have spent more than eight months on remand without the prosecution informing them when the investigations will be complete.
asked the military court to release his clients on bail, saying that the law provides that when suspects spend more than six
months without trial, they qualify for mandatory bail.
He explained that his
clients have substantial sureties who
are ready to stand surety for them and ensure they return to court when needed. He, however, couldn’t present a formal application yet the procedures in the general
court-martial require applicants to present a written application and serve the prosecutors to enable them to file a written
response. Lt. Alex Rasto Mukhwana, one of the court prosecutors objected to the prayers made by the Défense
lawyers, saying that they are
omnibus and outside the
procedures of the General Court
In response, another Défense
lawyer, Elizabeth Nyansingwa asked the Court to direct the prosecutors to expedite the investigations, arguing that the continued detention
of the suspects without trial infringes on their rights to an expeditious trial. Lt. General Gutti agreed with the Défense lawyers
and ordered the Prosecutors to expedite the investigations, saying that they shouldn't turn it
into a song to tell the court every time that investigations are
Gutti also directed the Défense lawyers to make a formal
application for bail such that it can be heard on February 15th, 2022. He further
remanded the accused persons to Kitalya Government Prisons and the only female suspect in the case
Lutaaya to Kigo Prison until then. Speaking to Uganda Radio Network shortly after the court
session, Musisi noted that they
filed a formal application and it was fixed for hearing today.
However, a copy of the
application seen by URN shows that it was filed in the
morning shortly before the start of the session and was received by Captain Ambroz Guma on behalf of the
Prosecution. The defense lawyers neither put it to the attention of that court that they had made a formal application and served the
Prosecutors. Musisi insisted that the Prosecution was already prepared to
adjourn despite their formal application.
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On her part, Dr. Lina Zedriga, the Vice President for the National Unity Platform in Charge of
Northern Uganda, said
that it was not fair for the Court Martial to further adjourn the case when
their supporters have been on remand for so long yet they are civilians who are not supposed to be
subjected to military law.
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Luganda Audio by (MP Zaake)
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Trouble for the accused persons started when UPDF accused them of plotting to stage petrol bomb attacks targeting government
vehicles and buildings in various places in the country ahead of President
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni's swearing-in ceremony in May 2021 whom they reportedly
never wanted to be sworn in. It came after Museveni defeated the NUP President Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu in the January
Police later claimed that the suspects masterminded attacks
on Kasubi Royal Tombs, former Jinja Resident City Commissioner, Eric Sakwa in Nakulabye, Uganda Registration
Services Bureau, and Katwe police station among others to express their dissatisfaction
with the polls. The suspects were picked by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence.