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DPP clears ‘key suspect’ in Susan Magara murder

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has dropped charges against Patrick Kasaija, also known as Pato, who was previously considered the primary suspect in the abduction and subsequent murder of Susan Magara.

During a court session on Monday, Senior State Attorney Irene Nakimbugwe announced that the DPP had decided to withdraw charges against Kasaija. She presented a nolle prosequi signed by the DPP in this regard and also submitted an amended indictment and summary of evidence to the High Court Criminal Division’s Acting Deputy Registrar, Didas Muhumuza. The trial has been adjourned to commence on October 23, 2023.

The case is under the jurisdiction of Justice Alex Ajiji.

Background:
In 2018, Patrick Kasaija, also known as Pato, was identified by the state as the alleged mastermind behind the kidnapping and murder of Susan Magara. He, along with Byensi Yakoub and Zahra, were named as missing suspects in the case.

Kasaija, known for his penchant for luxury vehicles with personalized ‘Pato’ number plates, was accused of leaving the country with the ransom money paid by the Magara family following her tragic murder.

It was reported that Pato traveled to South Africa on February 25, 2018, just one day after the ransom of Sh700 million was handed over to the kidnappers. This led to President Museveni’s involvement in securing Pato’s extradition from South Africa.

Police had requested South African authorities to arrest and extradite Pato back to Uganda, as there were strong suspicions that he was the one negotiating the one million dollar ransom demanded by the kidnappers via phone.

Pato’s actions, including applying for a South African Visa, his travel plans, and return to Uganda, raised suspicions. He had two passports in different names, further adding to the intrigue.

It’s important to note that Pato remains presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. His case file is currently under review by the DPP, who will determine whether he will be jointly charged with the eight others in custody or not.

The Case:
Kasaija was initially accused along with Mahad Kasalita, the former imam of Usafi makeshift mosque, Yusuf Lubega, Hussein Wasswa, Muzamiru Ssali, Abubaker Kyewolwa, Hassan Kato Miiro, Amir Bukenya, and Hajara Nakandi. They were alleged to be the masterminds behind the kidnapping and murder of Susan Magara.

Magara, a 28-year-old who worked as an administrator for her family’s businesses and as a cashier for Bwendo Dairy Farm in Hoima, was abducted in Mengo as she left work to drive home in Lungujja on February 7, 2018.

She was held captive for three weeks, ultimately losing her life, and her body was found in Kitiko Village, located between Kajjansi and Kigo along the Entebbe Express highway, despite the family having paid the requested Shs700 million ransom.

The indictment indicates that the plan to kidnap Magara was formulated by Yakub Byensi, a former ADF combatant from Bunyoro, who was known to the deceased’s family. Yusuf Lubega, who had worked with the deceased’s family in Container Village, was also implicated in the plan.

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