Committal proceedings for jailed MPs Ssegirinya, Ssewanyana adjourned again

Defence lawyers Shamim Malende and Erias Lukwago chat outside the courtroom after the session on March 23, 2022. PHOTO | FAHAD MALIK JJINGO

What you need to know:

  • Defence lawyer, Ms Shamim Malende, told court that detention of her clients is an obstacle to their speakership ambitions.

The State has has concluded investigations into the murder case against jailed opposition legislators Muhammad Ssegirinya (Kawempe North) and Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West).

Appearing before Masaka Grade One Magistrate, the area Resident State Attorney, Mr Richard Birivumbuka also told court that “the committal papers for the accused persons to high court for trial will be ready in the next court sitting.”

Mr Birivumbuka also informed Wednesday’s presiding magistrate, Ms Christine Nantegge, that the State was not able to make amendments in the charge sheet as promised in the last court sitting.

“This is because the MPs’ co-accused keeps playing hide and seek with prison authorities. We will be able to align a one Ssenyonga in court in the next sitting,” he said.

According to Mr Birivumbuka, Ssenyonga is currently on remand at Kitalya Prison.

Defense lawyers led by Kampala Lord Mayor Mr Erias Lukwago said “the application to adjourn the matter was just intentional for the State to violate the accused persons’ freedom and rights by continuing to keep them in jail.”

“If you [State] have completed investigations, why not commit them to High Court, we ask court to exercise it discretion and release the accused persons on bail since they are just a few days away to clock the constitutional six months on remand,” he observed.

Another defence lawyer, Ms Shamim Malende, told court that detention of her clients is an obstacle to their ambitions of contesting in the ongoing speakership race.

“Hon Allan Ssewanyana and I have already expressed our interest to contest for speakership. Hon Ssegirinya intends to contest for deputy speakership when the sit falls vacant.  We ask Parliament to halt the process if there are no proper ways of how these MPs in custody will vote,” Ms Malende, who also doubles as the Kampala woman MP remarked.

Grade One Magistrate Ms Nantegge adjourned the matter to April 6, 2022- insisting that “court cannot release the accused legislators on bail as defense lawyers wanted since the constitutional six months have not yet elapsed.”

For your information

The two MPs, who have been on remand since September 20, 2021 were first accused of murder, attempted murder and aiding and abetting terrorism alongside several other suspects arrested in connection with last year’s spate of killings that left 26 people dead in Greater Masaka. They were later granted bail but re-arrested as they left prisons, and slapped with fresh charges.

The case has since been adjourned several times either due to the absence of the prosecutor or on the State’s request for more time.

READ: I've received death threats, State prosecutor in Ssegirinya, Ssewanyana case tells courtIn their requests for adjournment, the State has on several occasions argued that the evidence collected by police thus far is not sufficient for the MPs to be committed to High Court for trial.

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