ICD Sets March 21st to Hear Application to Stay Ssegirinya, Ssewanyana Trial

The High Court International Crimes Division at Kalolo in Kampala has set March 21st, 2023 to hear an application by lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi to stay the trial of Makindye West Member of Parliament Allan Ssewanyana and his Kawempe North counterpart, Muhammad Ssegirinya.   

Mabirizi wants the Director of Public Prosecution-DPP to drop the additional charges of murder, terrorism, attempted murder, and abetting terrorism that she slapped against the legislators shortly after their release on bail for murder. He argues that the DPP acted in contravention of the constitution when she introduced fresh but similar offenses for which, the legislators had already been charged and granted bail by Masaka High Court on September 07th, 2022. 

He ran to the International Crimes Division of the High Court in August 2022 to stay the prosecution of the two MPs until the Constitutional Court determines his suit against the DPP and the Attorney General concerning the legality of the duo’s trial. Mabirizi argued that the additional charges brought against the legislators on different criminal files amount to political persecution, which is unjustifiable in a free and democratic society and therefore unconstitutional. 

He also argued that the additional charges deprived Ssewanyana and Ssegirinya of the Shillings 20 million they each paid before being granted bail when the state presented an amended charge sheet, which should not have been the case. Accordingly, Mabirizi appealed to the ICD, which was preparing to commence the trial of the legislators to hold on until the matter in the Constitutional Court is determined. 

According to Mabirizi, the Constitutional Court had in June last year fixed his petition for hearing, which however did not happen after two of the five members panel of the court disqualified themselves from presiding over the matter. Regardless, Mabirizi indicates that the Constitutional Court promised to fix the hearing of the matter as soon as possible.

He, therefore, argues that any prosecution of the suspects before the Constitutional Court pronounces its position is against the constitution and should be stayed in the interest of fairness.  “There is a threat of conducting proceedings before the determination of the petition since the matter is now in the pre-trail stages. The applicant together with Hon Allan Ssewanyana and Muhammad Ssegirinya will suffer irreparable injury if the application is not granted,” he indicates in his notice of motion.   

The Registrar of the High Court International Crimes Division has issued a notice of hearing for Mabirizi’s application on Tuesday, March 21st, 2023. Besides the two MPs, Mabirizi’s application also seeks to stay the prosecution of other suspects including Jackson Kanyike, John Mugerwa, Bulo Wamala, Mike Sserwadda, and Jude Muwonge, who according to the state were accomplices in the murder of Joseph Bwanika, which occurred on September 29th, 2021. 

These are also facing a spiral of criminal charges related to the spate of murders that claimed 25 lives in the greater Masaka sub-region between May and July 2021. This comes about a fortnight after Masaka High court released Ssewanyana and Muhammad Ssegirinya on bail.        

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