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Court dismisses bail application for Katumba shooting suspect

Sheikh Siraje Yusuf Nyanzi has been denied bail. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Justice Paul Gadenya Wolimbwa has dismissed the bail application filed by Sheikh Siraje Yusuf Nyanzi, the prime suspect in the murder of the driver and daughter of Transport and Works Minister General Edward Katumba Wamala.

He delivered the verdict in his ruling read by the deputy criminal division registrar Festo Nsenga, on Thursday morning. Nyanzi is jointly charged with five others for attempted murder, terrorism and the murder of Brenda Nantongo Katumba and Sergeant Haruna Kayondo, on June 1st, 2021, in Kisaasi, Kampala.

He applied for bail through his lawyers of Wameli and Company Advocates on grounds that he is presumed innocent until proven guilty, has a fixed residence, is a family man with a wife and ten children to look after and will abide by the bail condition. Nyanzi also told the court that he wouldn’t interfere with the ongoing investigations and that his trial has not yet started, adding that it is most likely to delay.

He presented his wife Musa Namulindwa, his brother-in-law Jamilu Ssebaduka, a businessman dealing in clothes and his friend, Yusuf Jumah Ssemigabo, a businessman and the Director Answar Moslem High School as his sureties.

However, the prosecution opposed the bail application relying on an affidavit sworn by Desire Wandera, a detective Assistant Inspector of Police who is attached to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Wandera asked the court to reject the bail application on grounds that the suspect is a former member of the rebel Allied Democratic Forces, a designated terror group and was granted amnesty by the government of Uganda in 2013, which he violated.

The prosecution also alleged that Nyanzi is charged with seven offences that involve personal violence and carry the maximum sentence of death upon conviction, arguing that he is likely to abscond from the trial once released. Justice Gadenya dismissed the application on grounds that Nyanzi is facing various capital offences, which attract a maximum sentence of death upon conviction.

He noted that if he was to give bail in such a matter, he would order 150 million Shillings, not in cash. According to Justice Gadenya, this means that if Nyanzi absconds from the trial, his sureties would be compelled to pay the Government of Uganda, saying that he isn’t sure that the sureties have the capacity to pay bond fees.

“From the available information presented on the sureties by the applicant. I am not in a position to determine whether the sureties have sufficient means to execute the said bond. In the absence of this information, I am unable to hold that the sureties are substantial,” said Gadenya. He also said that despite the fact that he denied the certificate of on-court record, when he looks at the available information, the certificate belongs to him.

“I do not doubt that based on the available record information, the person named in the amnesty certificate is the applicant/Nyanzi. Given the negative experiences of the applicant and risks attendant to releasing him on bail, I am convinced that the applicant has not made out a case to be granted bail”, said Gadenya. Nyanzi’s lawyer Geoffrey Turyamusiima says that they are not happy with the decision and vowed to make a second attempt at bail.

The prosecution alleges that Nyanzi and others still at large between March 2021 and June 2021, with intent to intimidate the public or section of the public, and for political-religious social or economic aim, indiscriminately without due regard to the safety of others, directly involved themselves in the murder and attempted murder of police personnel and civilians.

The prosecution argues that the accused attempted to murder Katumba Wamala and Boniface Mucunguzi, a bystander during the shooting that left the driver and daughter of the former Chief of Défense Forces dead. Besides this case, Nyanzi is charged on two other separate files in the International Crimes Division of the High Court.

He is accused of murdering Major Muhammad Kiggundu and his bodyguard Sergeant Steven Mukasa who were shot dead in Masanafu, a Kampala suburb on November 26th, 2016. The other is the murder of the former Police Spokesperson Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kawesi, his bodyguard Kenneth Erau and driver Godfrey Mambewa on March 17, 2017.



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