The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mike Chibita has discontinued charges of terrorism, murder, crimes against humanity against the Australia-based cardiologist Dr Aggrey Kiyingi that he was facing for allegedly being behind the wave of killings of top Muslim clerics last year.
In the same move, the DPP has indicated to the International Crimes Division of the High Court that over 40 witnesses are lined up to testify against the remaining 31 suspects in this high profile case that has now been set for actual trial starting June 15 before a panel of three judges.
The DPP’s move to discontinue the charges against Dr Kiyingi was communicated to a pre-trial session earlier today that was being presided over by Justice Duncan Gaswaga sitting at High Court premises in Kampala.
Usually, at pre-trial sessions, a single judge meets the prosecution and defense sides to level the ground in preparation for a smooth actual hearing.
“I have instructions from the DPP to discontinue charges against Dr Kiyingi..” Principal State Attorney Charles Richard Kaamuli told court before he presented a nolle prosequi as a confirmation.
To that effect, presiding judge went on to discontinue the charges against Dr Kiyingi who had never appeared in court over the same charges for the last two years.
“I have seen the nolle prosequi discontinuing the charges against Dr Kiyingi and he is accordingly discharged..” held justice Gaswaga.
Prior to the discontinuation of charges against Dr Kiyingi, Justice Gaswaga had asked the prosecution where Dr Kiyingi was since he was missing in court.
It’s upon this backdrop that Mr Kaamuli informed court of how he had instructions from the DPP to drop charges against Dr Kiyingi.
The remaining suspects face six charges ranging from terrorism, murder, attempted murder, aiding or rendering support to the ADF rebels.
Further during today’s pre-trial session, the charges were read afresh to each of the suspects who each pleaded not guilty to the same before being further remanded to prison.
The case involves Sheikh Yunus Kamoga, the leader of the Tabliq sect and 30 more who are believed to have directed systematic attacks against Shia and Tabliq Muslims, leaving many dead including Sheikh Mustafa Bahiga at Bwebajja who was gunned down along Entebbe Road, Sheikh Abdulkadir Muwaya who was killed in Mayuge District and Sheikh Hassan Kirya who was shot at and killed in Bweyogerere, Waksio District.
Also during today’s session, Mr Kaamuli told court that they have a list of evidence including laptops, mobile phones, motorcycles, Western Union money transfers, travel documents among other pieces of evidence that they intend to rely on to prove their case against the suspects when the actual trial starts.
But the defense lawyers led by Fred Muwema; raised several complaints including the refusal by the prosecution to disclose all the evidence they intend to use against their clients and yet it’s their constitutional right to know what kind of evidence the prosecution has before the actual trial starts.
Mr Muwema went on to castigate the prosecution case, arguing that they have a very bad case as there is no evidence linking their clients to the crime and that court’s time should not be wasted on such.
“The evidence provided is empty and cannot in anyway support the charges. There is nothing at all, even a law student can see this..” Mr Muwema castigated the prosecution’s evidence.
Another defense lawyer Mr Twaha Mayanja, alerted court of how some of their clients had been returned to police cells instead of being taken to prison after their earlier court appearance and yet the practice is that when a suspect appears before court, they are remanded to a prison facility and not taken back to police cells.
The remaining suspects in this case include; Sheikh Siraje Kawooya, Abdulsalam, Abdulhamid Sematimba, Rashid Jingo, Twaha Sekkitto, Yusuf Kakande alias Abdallah, Sheikh Murta Mudde Bukenya, Kakim Kinene Muswaswa, Muzamilu Kasawuli, Arafa Serunjoji alias Bukenya, Badru Bukenya, Alex Okot, Joseph Olanya, and Amir Kenene.
Others are; Aisha Nakasibante, Charles Okidi, Sheikh Fahad Kalungi, No. RA 17029 Pte Arajab Mubaje, Issa Matanda, Hajji Abdul Ratif Byamukama, Asadu Ssemwongerere, Solomon Kibiringe, Safiyi Wadwali alaias Swafi Shafi, Hamuza Kasirye, Yusuf Sentamu, Robert Bampikye, Muhamadi Kalodo alias Kasibante, Musa Isa Mubiru, Ismail Ssentongo and Iga George William alias Hamuza.