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MP Luttamaguzi Semakula, 22 others granted bail

FILE PHOTO: MP Luttamaguzi and co-accused appearing in court

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Nakaseke South Member of Parliament Luttamaguzi Ssemakula and 22 other suspects who are accused of disregarding COVID-19 guidelines have been granted bail.

Luttamaguzi, Violet Nakalema, an aspirant for the Nakaseke Woman Parliamentary Seat and 21 others were remanded to Kitalya and Kasangati prisons by Nakaseke Grade One magistrate Milly Nankya following their arrest in Semuto town council a week ago.

They were jointly charged with three counts that include doing an act that is likely to spread an infectious disease contrary to section 171 of the penal code act, common nuisance and unlawful procession all allegedly committed on August 26, 2020, in Semuto town council.

Today, Luttamaguzi appeared before Nakaseke Grade one magistrate Milly Nankya via zoom conference from Kitalya prison. The bail applications for all the other suspects were heard in their absence, a decision taken to guarantee their safety amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lawyers Richard Lumu and Asuman Basaalirwa asked the court to grant the suspects bail as a constitutional right and release unconditionally a 16-year-old suspect who was arrested and charged together with all the other suspects in the case.

Basaalirwa submitted that the court wasn’t guided by the State Attorney leading to abuse of the rights of the minor, who was remanded in prison cells meant for old persons. He asked the magistrate to release the minor unconditionally since her rights were abused and that her parents were not informed about her arrest.

State prosecutor Angelo Wasswa Bengo did not object to the bail application but said that there was no law broken in charging the minor because criminal responsibility in Uganda stands at age 12.

The Magistrate granted Luttamaguzi and his co-accused a cash bail of 200,000 Shillings each while the 16-year-old was released unconditionally. Each of the sureties was also granted a non-cash bond of one million Shillings.

Luttamaguzi and the other suspects are expected back on October 1, 2020, for further hearing of the case. However, lawyer Richard Lumu told URN that he was planning to file a complaint in court against an officer who allegedly assaulted MP Luttamaguzi during the arrest.

There was heavy deployment after the court session to stop any kind of procession, as scores marched in celebration of the court decision. The police also deployed two water cannon vehicles to disperse the supporters. Before this, Luttamaguzi’s supporters started singing songs of freedom, mainly those used by members of the People Power pressure group.

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