Court acquits Muslim clerics of murder, convicts 6 of terrorism

Court acquits Muslim clerics of murder, convicts 6 of terrorism
The accused in court earlier. Courtesy Photo.

The International Criminal Division of the High court has acquitted 14 Muslim clerics of the murder and attempted murder of their colleagues.

The three justices of the High court including Ezekiel Muhanguzi, Percy Tuhaise and Jane Kiggundu delivered their judgment Monday afternoon.

The suspects included Muhammad Yunus Kamoga, the leader of Tablighi Muslims under Jamat Da’wat Assalafiyya, Sheikh Siraji Kawooya, Sheikh Murta Mudde Bukenya, Sheikh Fahad Kalungi, Amir Kinene and Hakim Kinene Muswaswa.

Others include Katende Yusufu alias Abdallah, Sekayanja Abdulsalam alias Kassim Mulumba, Sematimba Abudulhamid Mubiru, Hamza Kasirye, Twaha Sekitto, Jingo Rashid, Musa Issa Mubiru and Iga George William.

They were charged with the murder of Mustafa Bahiga, the former Kampala district Amir, Hassan Ibrahim Kirya, the former spokesperson of Kibuli Muslim based faction, attempted murder of Sheikh Dr Haruna Jjemba, the leader of the rival Tablighi Muslim faction and terrorism.

In their judgment read by Justice Ezekiel Muhanguzi, the three judges noted that although the prosecution had proved the murder of Kirya and Bahiga, it failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt the participation of the accused.

He noted that on the murder of Bahiga, prosecution relied on the testimony of his son Mujahid Mustafa Bahiga, Dr Emmanuel Muwema and Elizabeth Sanyu Kabahinda, a billing clerk at Namulanda health center who reportedly heard the deceased implicating Kamoga. Justice Muhanguzi noted that although prosecution relied exclusively on circumstantial evidence, it was unclear for court if, how and when the accused participated in the murder.

On Kirya, Justice Muhanguzi noted although prosecution proved three ingredients of murder, it failed to place the accused at the scene of crime.

On the attempted murder of Dr Jjemba, Justice Muhanguzi noted that although Jjemba claimed he was listed among those to be killed, he told court he neither knew those behind the threats nor those who attacked his home.

“In cross-examination, he stated that he received a call from someone saying that his neck was ready for slaughter, [he] did not know the person who’d called him. That, although he did not know who printed the fliers/posters he believed the fliers were made by A1.

That , he did not know who killed the deceased persons named in the endangerment or who carried out any acts of terrorism and he did not mention any name of who telephoned him and threatened him and that he did not know who attacked his home on 3rd January 2015,” said Justice Muhanguzi.

In their judgment, the three justices acquitted all the accused of murder charges, saying the prosecution evidence doesn’t irresistibly prove their involvement.

“[Prosecution] does not irresistibly show that the accused persons or any of them participated in the deaths of Mustapha Bahiga or Hassan Ibrahim Kirya or the attempted murder of Haruna Jjemba. The prosecution evidence leads several possibilities to point to other perpetrators with the offences that the accused persons than the accused persons”, Justice Muhanguzi said.

However, the same court found Silaji Kawooya, Yunus Kamoga, Murtadha Bukenya, Fahad Kalungi, Yusufu Kakande, Abdusalam Sekyanja guilty of terrorism. Justice Tuhaise reading the judgement.

“On the indictment, we found and held that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt A1, A2, A3, A4, A7 and A8 committed at various times acts of terrorism like by attacking the reputation and character and threatening of members of the Jamat Da’wat Assalafiyya.

The acts were committed against the members of the Muslim faith in at least one seminar at Masaka in meetings of A1 and A2 and at gatherings in various mosques like Nakasero, William street in Kampala and elsewhere. The acts were intended to and actually to intimidate members of the Muslim community and the rest of the public. The acts were religious, political, economic and for social purposes”, she said.

Court will convene on Tuesday afternoon to the deliver its sentence for the convicts.