New judge declines to hear MPs Ssegirinya, Ssewanyana bail application

New judge declines to hear MPs Ssegirinya, Ssewanyana bail application
New judge declines to hear MPs Ssegirinya, Ssewanyana bail application

Africa-PressUganda. The new Masaka High Court Judge, Lawrence Tweyanze has declined to handle fresh bail applications for opposition lawmakers Mr Allan Ssewanyana and Mr Muhammad Ssegirinya.

Masaka High Court registrar, Agnes Nkonge told one of the defence lawyers that she ‘‘was asked by her superiors to allocate the file to Justice Tweyanze who is supposed to report on October 18.’’

“I have talked to the judge and he says he cannot handle that matter when his colleague had already started on it,” Ms Nkonge said Monday evening.

The MPs who are now faced with four criminal charges of murder, and one of attempted murder, aiding and abetting terrorism, all related to recent killings in Masaka Sub-region- had reapplied for bail after earlier attempts failed.

The legislators listed 11 grounds for their release including suffering from grave illness, inadequate medical treatment and attention while in prison, having fixed places of abode, and willingness to abide by the bail terms, among others.

Meantime, the two accused are expected to appear before the Masaka Chief Magistrate on October 13, for mention of their case.

Last week, the High Court judge, Victoria Nakintu, who was handling the case referred the matter to the Principal Judge, Dr Flavian Zeija, over unknown reasons and the defense lawyers were asked to return on Monday October 11 to know the judge who will handle the second bail application of their clients.

Mr Musa Matovu, one of the MPs’ lawyers said they will seek justice from the Court of Appeal in Kampala if the Masaka Court fails to handle the fresh application for bail.

“We are worried that the people who are supposed to deliver justice to Ugandans appear to be under intimidation,” Mr Matovu said.

The cases

According to court records, the two legislators together with other suspects-some on remand and other still at large on August, 2, 2021 allegedly killed Joseph Bwanika, a resident of Kisekka Village in Kisekka Sub County in Lwengo District.

Prosecution also alleges that on August 23 at Ssettaala Village in Masaka City, the MPs and their co-accused persons killed Francis Mugerwa Kiiza aka Nswa, Sulaiman Kakooza and Tadeo Kiyimba .The MPs are also accused of attempting to kill Ronald Ssebyoto ,a resident of the same area .

On September 20, Masaka High Court granted bail to the MPs but Mr Ssewanyana was viciously rearrested by plain clothed armed men and forced into a van infamously known as a drone as he walked out of Kigo Prison September 23, 2021. His colleague, Ssegirinya was also arrested in the same manner on September 27 as he left Kigo Prison.

The right to bail is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 23 (6) of the 1995 Ugandan Constitution that states: ‘‘Where a person is arrested in respect of a criminal offence—The person is entitled to apply to the court to be released on bail, and the court may grant that person bail on such conditions as the court considers reasonable.’’

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