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Anti-Atwine protesters released on bail

Bail application hearing in court while in session. URN photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Law Development Center (LDC) Magistrate Alule Augustine has released on bail two suspects, Ojobile Augustine and Sharif Kawooya who are accused of inciting violence by dropping a casket near the Ministry of Health demanding for immediate resignation of the permanent secretary Ministry of Health Dr. Diana Atwine whom they accuse of mishandling COVID-19 response funds.

In his ruling, His Worship Alule accepted the two sureties standing for each suspect, and found them substantial to stand surety for the accused since the state attorney had no objection to the bail application, nor to the sureties details submitted by the defense lawyer.

The two suspects had to appear via zoom from Murchison Bay prison, but the authorities in the prison did not avail them since they were missing on the production warrant list. The prisons officer in court shortly after confirmed that they are in their custody.

This didn’t stop the magistrate who noted that application for bail is a constitutional right of the accused. The two have been released on a five million Shillings non-cash bail from Murchison Bay prison, and the sureties have been committed to ten million shillings, also not cash.

Tusiime Anna, aged 26, a businesswoman who’s a girlfriend to Sharif Kawooya and Sseguya Abdul Karim, a friend, stood surety for the accused, while Ssembusi Godfrey, a poultry farmer and Godfrey Muhumuza, a friend, stood for Ojabile Augustine.

The duo has been ordered to return to court on 5th October, 2021 at 10:00am, for the mention of their case.

On 23rd August 2021, the same court denied bail to the accused since they had presented only one surety standing for each suspect, and the state attorney asked to investigate the residences of the sureties.

The magistrate ordered their lawyer to find one more surety representing each suspect and submit the details of the four to the state attorney before the next court sitting, something they fulfilled.

Kawooya Sharif and Ojobile Augustine were arrested last month following a manhunt by the Uganda Police from Kawempe and Kasubi respectively, on allegations that on 27th July, 2021, they dumped a coffin of a baby near the Ministry of Health with posters saying ” COVID-19 is not a business venture, Atwine must resign,” among others.

Defense lawyer Derrick Lutalo told URN after the court session that they are happy with the magistrate’s ruling, though it came late. He adds that they are going to follow up on the charges and see whether there is substance in the charges and see how they can pursue the dropping of charges against his clients.

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