The pre-trial of MPs Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West) and Muhammad Ssegirinya (Kawempe North) on terrorism charges has been adjourned to March 27 due to the ill health of the two legislators.
Last month on February 13, Masaka High court resident judge, Lawrence Tweyanze granted the two legislators a cash bail of Shs 20 million each after spending more than a year in prison following numerous attempts to get bail in vain.
The suspects are charged with a string of charges including attempted murder, murder, and terrorism. The prosecution alleges that the two MPs and their co-accused people participated in the machete murders in Greater Masaka with the intent to intimidate the public for political, religious, social, or economic gains.
The two MPs who were arrested on September 7, 2021, though are also facing charges of terrorism and aiding terrorism, which they allegedly coordinated between January and August 2021 in the greater Masaka sub-region.
But they couldn’t make it into the High court premises in Kololo to face terrorism charges. Ssewanyana was ferried to the court in a white Alphard vehicle today Monday morning. His lawyer, Samuel Muyizzi Mulindwa said that they advised the legislator to stay away from the court session considering that he was ill.
With a cannula on his arm, Ssewanyana remained lying in the vehicle as the court session proceeded. Muyizzi told the court that Ssewanyana was ready to appear before the court on a stretcher but he talked him out of it because “it is not the practice of the court to have suspects stretched to court” and that even the defense team would not be able to proceed with the court in such a manner.
He further told the court that Ssewanyana was also intending to appear before the registrar of the court to apply for the release of his passport to allow him to seek further treatment in Nairobi, Kenya. Muyizzi asked the court to give his client a month to seek the necessary treatment. Robert Muhereza, who represents John Mugera, one of the co-accused didn’t object to the adjournment except for the period.
He said that since his client is still incarcerated, a month’s period is unreasonable and asked that only three weeks be granted. The prosecution led by Richard Birivumbuka, the Masaka resident chief state attorney did not object to the adjournment, saying that they don’t want to appear as persecutors since the issue of one’s health is so critical.
However, he said a month is too much considering that there are other suspects still on remand. Like Muhereza, he asked for three weeks. The other suspects still on remand are Jackson Kanyike, Bull Wamala, Mike Sserwandda, and Jude Muwonge who are represented by counsel Geoffrey Turyamusiima who the court heard is still in Bugisu sub-region where his partner counsel Anthony Wameli was laid to rest over the weekend.
Ssegirinya was also supported by two men to walk into the court hall. The judge, Alice Komuhangi hence adjourned the matter to March 27 when the case shall return for pretrial conferencing. Except for the two MPs who are out on bail, the remaining five suspects were further remanded.
Speaking to journalists after the court session, Muyizzi said that his clients are not ready, both physically and mentally to start pre-trial. He added that they let Segiringa attend court such that the counsels to the other suspects appreciate the situation themselves and see merit in the prayer for adjournment. He also said that they shall now proceed to seek for release of Sewanyana’s passport to allow him got for treatment in Nairobi.