Suspect Charged with Ssegirinya, Ssewanyana Seeks for Bail

One of the suspects, among the five who have been jointly charged alongside legislators Allan Ssewanyana and Muhammad Ssegirinya, has appealed to the International Crimes Division of the High Court to grant him bail as he awaits trial.

The individual in question, John Mugera, has been accused along with Jackson Kanyike, Bull Wamala, and Mike Sserwadda of various charges, including murder, terrorism, and aiding and abetting terrorism.

These charges originate from a series of brutal machete killings that transpired in the greater Masaka region approximately two years ago. This violent spree led to the tragic demise of over 20 individuals and inflicted injuries upon numerous others.

While the MPs were granted bail, the remaining suspects, including Mugera, are still held in custody. Mugera has now sought bail on the basis that he was initially remanded to Kitalya Government Prison before being transferred to Luzira Prison, where he is currently detained.

Represented by his legal team led by Nicholas Ssenkumi, Mugera contends that he has been in custody since September 2021, yet the trial has not yet commenced. Ssenkumi argues that despite Mugera’s commitment to the International Crimes Division for trial, the pre-trial process only commenced in July 2022 and has yet to conclude.

Ssenkumi further asserts that this delay constitutes a violation of Mugera’s right to a fair trial within a reasonable timeframe. Notably, Mugera’s health is a pressing concern, as he reportedly suffers from hypertension, palpitations, and chest pain, which have been exacerbated by his prolonged detention.

Mugera’s legal team maintains that granting him bail would allow him access to better medical care outside the prison walls, in addition to presenting credible sureties.

During a recent hearing, State Attorney Richard Birivumbuka, Mugera, and his lawyer Ssenkumi appeared before Lady Justice Alice Komuhangi Khaukha. The court scheduled the bail application hearing for August 21, 2023, after Ssenkumi requested more time to respond to an affidavit submitted by the Prosecution opposing the bail request.

Meanwhile, the pretrial hearing for the main case involving the entire group has been temporarily halted pending the outcome of an application filed by Ssewanyana and Ssegirinya. The legislators are seeking a suspension of the trial until the resolution of their constitutional petition.

Back in February 2023, Ssegirinya and Ssewanyana filed a petition in the Constitutional Court, asserting that their separate trials in different courts in Masaka and the International Crimes Division amounted to an abuse of the legal process and a manifestation of political persecution. Alongside the constitutional petition, they also lodged an application within the International Crimes Division to pause their trial until the constitutional matter is addressed.

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