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Court suspends proceedings in Ssegirinya, Ssewanyana terrorism case

Left to Right: Lawyer Samuel Muyizzi Mulindwa speaking to his client MP Allan Ssewanyana. PHOTO URN

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The International Crimes Division of the High Court in Kampala has suspended proceedings in the case involving Kawempe North Member of Parliament Muhammad Ssegirinya and his Makindye West counterpart Allan Ssewanyana, who are facing charges of terrorism.

They are joined by Jackson Kanyike, John Mugerwa, Bull Wamala, and Mike Sserwadda, accused of terrorism, murder, and attempted murder in connection with the wave of machete killings that occurred in the greater Masaka district two years ago, claiming over 20 lives and injuring numerous others.

During a pretrial session presided over by Lady Judge Alice Komuhangi Khauka on Monday, the accused, represented by their lawyers Samuel Muyizzi Mulindwa, Chrysostom Katumba, Nicholas Ssenkumi, and George Turyamusiima, along with State Attorney Richard Birivumbuka, appeared before the court. However, Ssegirinya was notably absent.

Lawyer Mulindwa presented a letter to the court dated January 30th, 2024, addressed to the Clerk to Parliament from the Aga Khan Hospital in Kenya, indicating Ssegirinya’s critical illness. According to the letter, signed by Dr. Abel Akanyijuka on behalf of Dr. Adil Salyani, Ssegirinya has been under their care since December 23rd, 2023.

Despite initial signs of improvement, his condition has deteriorated, requiring ongoing hospital care.  “Hon Muhammad Ssegirinya still requires ongoing Hospital Care. Therefore, he will remain admitted until he is deemed fit for discharge at which point he will continue to receive the necessary care in a home setting”, reads the letter.  The document further states that Ssegirinya’s anticipated discharge date is at least 30 days from the date of writing.

Muyizzi elaborated that Ssegirinya was scheduled to return to the University Medical Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where a monitoring device had been implanted in his body to assess his condition. However, due to his worsening condition, he was rushed to St. Francis Nsambya Hospital and subsequently recommended for treatment abroad.

Muyizzi explained the need for an air ambulance due to Ssegirinya’s frailty, noting that it was not covered in the budget allocated by Parliament. As an interim measure, an air ambulance transported him to the nearby Aga Khan Hospital, deemed more affordable than the Netherlands.

Medical records presented to the court indicate Ssegirinya’s diagnosis and treatment for Hepatic Cholangiopathy and Cryptococcal Meningitis, conditions arising from lung-to-brain infection spread.

The court also heard that State Minister for Health Margaret Muhanga Mugisha had sought permission from the Clerk to Parliament on December 12th, 2023, for Ssegirinya’s medical travel and foreign currency purchase authorization, estimating a cost of $10,000.

Additionally, the lawyers raised concerns about their client Mike Serwadda’s alleged torture while in state custody. Serwadda maintained that he was coerced into falsely incriminating the legislators, denying any acquaintance with them. Serwadda informed the court of his lawyer Geoffrey Turyamusiima’s failure to file an application challenging the trial’s continuation on torture grounds, prompting him to request a halt to the pretrial proceedings.

In her ruling, Judge Komuhangi acknowledged Ssegirinya’s illness and the need to address the torture allegations raised by Serwadda. She directed Serwadda’s lawyer to submit a formal application by March 18th, 2024, with the prosecution responding and scheduled a hearing for March 26th, 2024. Meanwhile, she suspended proceedings in the main case until resolution of Serwadda’s application, allowing time for Ssegirinya’s recovery.

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