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MP Zaake’s absence keeps Ssegirinya in jail

Muhammad Ssegirinya and Allan Ssewanyana appear in court via zoom. URN/File photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The absence of Mityana Municipality Member of Parliament Francis Zaake, has caused his Kawempe North counterpart Muhammad Ssegirinya to stay in jail.

This is because Zaake committed himself to stand surety for Ssegirinya who is facing murder and terrorism charges but on Thursday, he was not available to append his signature on the release form such that Ssegirinya can gain temporary freedom.

Ssegirinya was jointly arrested with Makindye West MP Allan Ssewanyana on September 7th 2021, and taken to Masaka Magistrates Court on charges of murder and terrorism arising from the recent killings of people using machetes in Masaka. They were remanded and sent to Kigo government prison.

But since the court lacked jurisdiction to try the offenses, they had to seek bail before the High Court which was granted by Lady Justice Victoria Nakintu Katamba on September 20th 2021, on presumption that they are still innocent unless proven to be guilty.

As part of the conditions however, the Judge directed the legislators to pay a 20 million Shillings’ cash bail and ordered their sureties to execute a bond form of 100 million Shillings not cash.

They were also instructed to surrender their passports to the International Crimes Division of High Court where they should be reporting twice every month and barred from participating in any rhetoric that may cause public excitement.

After fulfilling the conditions of paying the cash to the bank and surrendering their passports, the parties on Thursday appeared before the High Court International Crimes Division Registrar Beatrice Atingu in Kampala to append signatures on the forms.

Subsequently, Ssewanyana and Ssegirinya appeared via a zoom link connecting from court to Kigo prison where they were directed to sign in the presence of the Registrar before the sureties can also sign physically in court.

Applicant number one Ssewanyana was the first to sign on the three copies of the forms after being directed to read through the terms and conditions. He was then followed by Ssegirinya who seemed eagerly waiting to leave jail, as his co accused Ssewanyana told him to first read through before signing even though he had started signing without reading.

The Registrar then called Ssewanyana’s three sureties who are all members of Parliament, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, Veronica Nanyondo and Francis Katabazi Katongole, to appear at the bar as she read one name after the other to come and append their signatures as well.

Moments later, court took a break of 20 minutes since Ssegirinya’s sureties were not all in court and resumed to let the two sureties Walugembe Moses Mawanda and Christine Nandagire who were present to also append their signatures.

When the process of physical signing was complete, the Registrar said the accused persons were further remanded until the release order reaches Kigo prison.

However, speaking to URN after the session, Ssegirinya’s lawyers led by Erias Lukwago have revealed that they are going to file an application to substitute Zaake because waiting for his return may take their client a little longer in prison.

Lukwago said that they have two other MPs including Mityana Woman MP Joyce Bagala with whom they want court to allow them to substitute Zaake and be considered as his surety.

This now means that the application seeking to substitute Zaake which has not yet been filed, until it is allocated to a Judge and determined on its merits, Ssegirinya will still have to be on remand or to wait up to when Zaake appears.

The prosecution alleges that Ssegirinya and Ssewanyana physically participated and connived with other people to execute the murders in greater Masaka around the month of July and August 2021, which saw dozens killed with machetes and scores injured.

According to the prosecution, the killings were made with intent to intimidate the public for political, religious, social, or economic gains. But the MPs still maintain their innocence.



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