Omusinga Mumbere Pre Trial Disrupted by Poor Internet Connection

The pretrial hearing of Rwenzururu Kingdom leader Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere and his co-accused who are charged with offenses related to terrorism was on Tuesday disrupted by poor internet connection.

The case had come up before the International Crimes Division of the High Court in Kampala.

The charges against the accused stem from Mumbere’s arrest on November 27th, 2016 following a raid by the army on his palace.  Mumbere was picked up together with 203 others including royal guards and Kingdom officials.  They were later arraigned in the Jinja Chief Magistrates Court on 41 charges related to terrorism, aggravated robbery, and murder among others, and were remanded to different prisons across the country prior to release on bail in shifts.    

But the case which was fixed to begin at 10:30 am before Lady Justice Alice Komuhangi Khaukha started smoothly by doing a roll call of the suspects who were present on zoom. However midway, the court could neither hear the suspects nor could the suspects hear from the court. 

The Judge had previously ordered that all suspects attend court via zoom from their respective courts near them such as in Bundibugyo, Kasese, and Fort Portal for the 140 people who are on bail.  Other suspects on remand at Jinja and Luzira Prison were expected to also attend from prison and Mumbere was expected to attend from his home in Kampala.

But when the Judge was doing roll calls to ascertain which suspects are present, there were disruptions of the internet, forcing State Attorney Marion Ben Bella and Lillian Omar to ask Court to first stop proceedings for a few minutes to make sure that the internet connection is sorted and roll call resumes.

When court resumed, some microphones were muted forcing the Defense lawyers Evans Ochieng and Alfred Makasi to first make direct phone calls to the Clerks in the courts connected on zoom.

The clerks later read to the lawyers the names of the suspects present in their courts as they wrote down and to avoid any eventualities, the Judge after being given names also had to go through them to ascertain the truth.

Names of suspects on remand were sent on the WhatsApp number of the Court Clerk. Later, Ochieng and Makasi asked the Court to be given more time to file supplementary affidavits to the bail application of 49 people still on remand.

They said the Prisons Officers gave them a medical report showing that the suspects were suffering from different ailments but the report did not indicate the ailments they were suffering from and the ages of the accused persons.

The lawyers said they need to visit Prison to ascertain the details and return and file supplementary affidavits to support their bail application.

The prosecution also asked Court for more time to disclose additional evidence they intend to rely on to try Mumbere and the group and also respond to the supplementary affidavits that will be made by the defense. 

Justice Komuhangi accepted their request and gave both parties until November 8th, 2022, and return for further hearing.

The Court has also ordered that the suspects who were absent should be given hearing notices to attend the next session when Mumbere will also appear via zoom.

Mumbere’s movements were confined to Kampala, Wakiso, and Mukono districts unless permitted by the court to travel outside the three districts.

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