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DPP opposes bail for Ssewanyana, Ssegirinya’s co-accused

John Mugera in court listening to proceedings. PHOTO URN

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Prosecution has formally requested the International Crimes Division of the High Court to reject the bail application filed by John Mugera, one of the suspects jointly charged with Allan Ssewanyana and Muhammad Ssegirinya, the Makindye West and his Kawempe South Members of parliament.

The trio, along with Jackson Kanyike, Bull Wamala, and Mike Sserwadda, is currently undergoing a pretrial hearing before Lady Justice Alice Komuhangi Khaukha. The group is facing charges of murder, terrorism, and aiding and abetting terrorism, stemming from a series of machete killings that occurred in the greater Masaka district two years ago.

These incidents resulted in the deaths of more than 20 people and left scores of others nursing injuries. While the MPs were granted bail, the remaining suspects are still on remand. John Mugera, who applied for bail last week, had his application formally considered on Monday. Mugera’s plea for release is based on the grounds that he has been in remand since September 2021, yet the trial has not yet commenced.

Mugera’s lawyer, Nicholas Ssenkumi, argued that although his client had been committed for trial, the pretrial proceedings commenced only in July 2022 and have not progressed for over a year, which he claims violates Mugera’s right to a fair and timely trial. Ssenkumi further pointed out that the trial is far from completion due to an application submitted by Ssegirinya and Ssewanyana to stay the proceedings in the Constitutional Court.

Additionally, Ssenkumi highlighted Mugera’s health issues, including hypertension, palpitations, and chest pains, which have worsened during his continued remand in prison. Ssenkumi presented Mugera’s wife Annet Ssanyu, Brother Deo Kisaasa, and Cousin Mary Birungi Namaga as sureties for his release.

However, the Prosecution, led by State Attorney Richard Birivumbuka, argued that Mugera’s application lacks merit. Birivumbuka stated that Mugera has not sufficiently proven the existence of exceptional circumstances that would warrant his release on bail. Birivumbuka highlighted that Mugera’s medical report indicates his hypertension is being managed and therefore not an exceptional circumstance.

Furthermore, the Prosecution raised concerns about Mugera’s lack of a fixed residence and questioned the credibility of his presented businesses in Kyotera. The Prosecution argued that both the sureties and the accused lack permanent residences, which poses a challenge for tracking them in case they abscond from trial. The Prosecution emphasized that the sureties did not adequately demonstrate their financial capacity to fulfill their role. Justice Komuhangi has scheduled the ruling on the bail application for August 28th, 2023. Until then, Mugera remains in remand.

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