Court rejects bid to combine two case files of jailed MPs

Makindye West MP Allan Ssewanyana (left) and his Kawempe North counterpart Muhammad Ssegirinya at the International War Crimes Division Court in Kololo, Kampala, on September 28, 2022. PHOTO/ABUBAKER LUBOWA.

What you need to know:

  • Their lawyers had argued that the two case files have a common theme and facts, hence the need to have them consolidated.

The International Division of the High Court has rejected a bid by two jailed Opposition Members of Parliament to have their two court case files consolidated into one.

While rejecting the request, presiding pre-trial judge Alice Komuhangi held that there is no evidence by MPs Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West) and Muhammad Ssegirinya (Kawempe North) that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) abused her authority to have similar but separate charges slapped against them.

The two separate cases are in connection with the spate of murders in greater Masaka by machete welding goons that left 26 people dead.

“I also need to observe that sections 23 and 24 of the Trial and Indictment Act (TIA) that regulate the joinder of the offences and persons use the word ‘may’ and not ‘shall,’ leaving the discretion to the Director of Public Prosecutions to determine which offences and persons to jointly charge,” ruled Justice Komuhangi.

“This discretion may only be interfered with upon satisfaction that there was abuse of the legal process. Counsel for the applicants (MPs) vehemently argued that charging the applicants separately was in abuse of the legal process. However, no evidence was adduced to the satisfaction of this court to that effect. In conclusion, this application hereby fails and is accordingly dismissed with no order to costs,”  she added.

The two separate charges that the MPs face include; criminal case no. 004 of 2022 Uganda Vs Mike Sserwadda and six others for terrorism, aiding and abetting terrorism, murder and attempted murder. The matter is pending trial at the International Crimes Division of the High Court in Kampala.

The second case file is CR-AA-258/2021; Uganda Vs MP Ssewanyana, MP Ssegirinya and Wilson Ssenyonga, alias Nyonga Tonny.

The offences were allegedly committed in Masaka and Lwengo areas, from where the said two case files arose.

In their application, the MPs, through their lawyers led by Mr Erias Lukwago, had argued that the two court case files have a common theme, set of circumstances and common questions of law and facts, hence the need to have them consolidated and heard only before the Kampala court.

But Justice Komuhangi said consolidation of criminal case files is not provided for in the laws.

“Having listened to the submissions, of counsel for the applicants and the court decisions relied on, I formed the view that whereas the application seeks a consolidation of Masaka CRB 605 of 2021 and Lwengo CRB 203 of 2021, they actually intended to mean joinder of offences and persons on one indictment and not consolidation,” held the judge.

Background 
The two separate cases are in connection with the spate of murders in greater Masaka by machete welding goons that left 26 people dead. This means the two MPs will face trial before the Masaka and Kampala courts.
 

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