Prisons refute starvation claims by Susan Magara murder suspects

Torture victims. Susan Magara murder suspects appear before Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s Court on September 4, 2018. PHOTO/MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

What you need to know:

  • On Thursday, prison authorities said the claims by the accused are false.

Uganda Prisons have refuted starvation claims by on-trial Susan Magara murder suspects.

On October 30, the nine suspects for the 2018 kidnap and murder of the Bwendero Dairy Farm cashier declined to be tried, reasoning that they were too hungry to stand trial.

The suspects through their lawyers told court that they were unable to stand in the dock on empty stomachs because they missed Monday supper and Tuesday breakfast before coming to court.

On Thursday, prison authorities said the claims by the accused are false.

“On the contrary, when the very prisoners returned from court on October 30 at 8:10pm, they were able to have dinner. The following day at around 6:30am, they had breakfast together with others before proceeding to court,” said Frank Mayanja Baine, the senior commissioner of prisons.

According to Baine, the same prisoners received visitors registered as Unusu Kato, Mariam Nakalega, Madinal Nansubuga, Aisha Nalubega, Robinah Nakonde, Haruna Lukwago, Abubakar Lukayiya, Umaru Ssebuguzi and Ronald Kimera in the prisons visitor’s book.

“It is absolutely not true that the prisoners were starving and never got the chance to be visited at court. Uganda Prisons Service strictly adheres to the Mandela Rules (International Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of offenders) in the management of prisoners throughout the country,” Baine added in a statement coming barely a day after High Court adjourned further hearing of the prosecution evidence to November 7.

The suspects are charged with two counts of murder and kidnap with intent to procure a ransom, contrary to provisions of the Penal Code Act. They have since denied the charges.

The suspects include Usafi Mosque Imam Mahad Kasalita, 32-year-old boda-boda rider Yusuf Lubega, 22-year-old hawker Hussein Wasswa, 27-year-old boda-boda rider Muzamiru Ssali and 35-year-old teacher Hajara Nakandi.

Others are: 30-year-old businessman Abubaker Kyewolwa, 30, Hassan Kato Miiro who is aged 22, businessman Ismail Bukenya and 23-year-old Musa Abbas Buvumbo.

Prosecution led by Irene Nakimbugwe and Joseph Kyomuhendo states that the suspects in jail and others still at large on February 7, 2018 kidnapped Magara, with intent to procure a ransom or benefit from her liberation from the danger of being murdered. Magara was later found murdered.