The International Crimes Division of the High Court in Kampala has directed the Uganda Prisons Services to produce eight suspects accused of murdering the daughter and driver of Transport and Works Minister General Edward Katumba Wamala for a pretrial hearing.
The suspects are Yusuf Siraje Nyanzi, Hussein Sserubula, Muhammad Kagugube, Sirimani Kisambira, Abudullah Aziz Ramadhan, Dunka, Kamada Walusimbi, Habib Ramadhan Marjan and Huzaifah Wampa.
On Wednesday, the Court presided over by Lady Justice Alice Komuhangi Khaukha issued the order after the suspects lawyers led by Nalukoola Luyimbazi and Geoffrey Turyamusiima said that they could not proceed with the pretrial hearing in the absence of their clients.
As such, the Court has directed the prisons to produce the suspects on November 14th, 2022 for the pretrial hearing to continue.
The prosecution led by Marion Ben Bella informed Court that they are ready to share with the defense lawyers the evidence they intend to rely on to prosecute the suspects. Ben Bella who has not disclosed which evidence in particular whether physical or documentary added that they are to do partial disclosure and that they will in future intend to apply for protection of the witnesses.
The Court directed them to share with the defense the evidence they have in their possession by the close of business on Wednesday.
The accused persons were in January 2022 committed by the Nakawa Chief Magistrates Court to face trial on 30 charges before the International Crimes Division.
The suspects who are on remand at Luzira Prison are facing charges related to terrorism, ten counts of murder, 12 counts of attempted murder, aggravated robbery, rendering services to a terrorist group, the Allied Democratic Forces, financing terrorism activities, and belonging to a terrorist organization.
The suspects were first arraigned before the court on five charges including the attempted murder of General Katumba Wamala, his bodyguard Sergeant Khalid Kuboit and Boniface Mucunguzi.
They survived the shooting which claimed the lives of Brenda Nantongo, the daughter of Wamala, and his driver Sargent Haruna Kayondo which occurred on June 1, 2021, along Kisota road in Kisaasi, a Kampala city suburb.
But later in October 2021, the Director of Public Prosecutions Jane Frances Abodo instituted 18 other charges against all the accused persons with exception of Nyanzi and Sserubula. The charges included allegations that while at Cheap General Hardware Nansana, in Wakiso district on May 29, 2019, the suspects together with others still at large with malice aforethought, unlawfully caused the death of Jimmy Atukuru, Frank Anania, Abaho Frank Mutsinda, and Amim Bugembe whom they shot dead.
According to the state, on the same date and place, the suspects also stole 385 million Shillings from Tedrin Nalule, the cashier of Cheap General Hardware, and again murdered Burton Okoti on April 27, 2019, at City Shoppers Supermarket Kanyanya, Mpererwe, Kawempe division in Kampala district.
The prosecutors added that after shooting Okoti dead, the accused took off with 2.2 million Shillings from Precious Kayesu and another 4.5 million Shillings from Aisha Nakafeero and also attempted to murder Jalia Nantambi on the same date and venue.
The accused persons are also implicated in the murders at Denovo Bakery Kalerwe in Kawempe division, Kampala district on September 16th, 2017 where five people including two special police constables Hussein Mubiru and Moses Kalungi were shot dead before injuring Angello Nantongo, Everest Hakizza, and Edward Ssenyonzi.
The office of the DPP also alleges that the accused persons stole 34.7 million Shillings from Nawal Nakatudde at Denovo Bakery before attempting to kill her.
It is further alleged that between March 2015 and June 2021 while in various places in Kampala, Luweero, Kasese, and in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the accused persons and others still at large rendered financial support to Hussein Lubwama alias Master to the commission, preparation of acts of terrorism. Lubwama was shot dead as the police affected his arrest.
Prosecution evidence also shows that the guns that were used in the crimes were examined and found to have been used in the murder of Major Muhammad Kiggundu and his bodyguard Sergeant Steven Mukasa in November 2016 and that the pistol recovered had been assigned to the late Corporal Erau Kenneth who was the bodyguard to the late Police Spokesperson Andrew Felix Kaweesi that had been stolen when the duo was gunned down together with Godfrey Mambewa on March 17th, 2017.
The suspects’ lawyers Luyimbazi and Turyamusiima say their clients were tortured during state custody and they want charges dismissed on that basis.
The defense lawyers had in July 2021 filed an application before the High Court Civil Division seeking the release of the suspects on grounds of having been tortured.
But they asked Court to grant a certificate of urgency such that their application is heard urgently during the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown. However, it was rejected by Civil Division Judge Musa Ssekaana on grounds that he was not satisfied that their matter requires urgency to the extent that it ought to be heard during the lockdown.