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DPP accuses Malende of delaying Ssegirinya, Ssewanyana terrorism trial

Malaende (middle)

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  The Director of Public Prosecutions has informed the International Crimes Division of the High Court that lawyer Shamim Malende has contributed significantly to the delay in the trial of Kawempe North Member of Parliament Muhammad Ssegirinya and his Makindye West counterpart, Allan Ssewanyana.

The two legislators are jointly charged with John Mugera Jackson Kanyike, Bull Wamala, and Mike Sserwadda for terrorism, murder, and affiliation with a terrorist organization, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). These charges stem from a wave of machete killings that occurred in the greater Masaka district two years ago, resulting in the deaths of more than 20 people and injuries to numerous others.

On Tuesday, the Prosecution, led by State Attorney Richard Birivumbuka, informed the court presided over by Lady Justice Alice Komuhangi Khaukha that the matter was coming up for mention and clarification. This included a review of what had been disclosed and whether the Prosecution had remaining evidence to share with the lawyers representing the accused.

Birivumbuka emphasized the importance of close consultation with the lawyers of the accused to avoid wasting time. He told the court that he was able to meet Evans Ochieng, Caleb Alaka, Samuel Muyizzi Mulindwa, Erias Lukwago, and Geoffrey Turyamusiima but Shamim Malende was no show. He noted that Malende’s involvement had caused delays.

Birivumbuka explained that Malende raised objections about not being served with documents when she joined the case on February 20, 2023. Since then, she has not returned to court. Birivumbuka also noted that Ssegirinya was unwell, and John Mugera’s lawyer, Nicholas Senkumi, had missed several court sessions. He asked the accused persons to confirm who their lawyers were.

In response, Ssewanyana stated that lawyers from Alaka, Ochieng, Lukwago, and Malende law firms represented him. He explained that Malende’s absence was due to illness, and she couldn’t send a representative. He assured the court that Malende’s absence would not occur again and promised to maintain the same legal team.

The court learned from lawyer Musa Matovu that Ssegirinya didn’t attend because he was preparing to travel to the Netherlands for treatment due to a visa delay. Justice Komuhangi’s ruling directed the Prosecution to serve the four law firms representing Ssegirinya, Ssewanyana, and the other accused.

This must be completed by November 27, 2023. If the directive is not followed, the Prosecution will have no further opportunity to adduce additional evidence. She also summoned the lawyers to her chambers for a meeting to harmonize legal issues before the case proceeded. Shamim Malende was unavailable for comment, and her personal assistant couldn’t be reached.

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