2010 Bombing Trial – 'Suspects Fled to South Sudan' [interview] (allAfrica.com)

On August 6, 2015, prosecution in the trial of the July 11, 2010 Kampala twin bombings suspects presented two witness who accused Hassan Haruna Luyima, a key suspect, of trying to escape to South Sudan immediately after the bombings. At the same trial, C harles Nuwagaba, another state witness, produced a document, which showed that another suspect Suleiman Hijja Nyamandondo, a Tanzanian national, came to Uganda via Kenya on May 9, 2010, with bombs. Siraje Lubwama and  Derrick Kiyonga recorded the proceedings. Below are excerpts:

Court clerk: Criminal case number N0. 2 of 2011 Hussein Hassan Agade and 12 others.

Okalany: My lord; I am Susan Okalany for prosecution. I am being assisted by Lino Anguzu and Thomas Jatiko and Rachael Bikhole. The defence is represented by Counsel Caleb Alaka and Annet Bada. We are ready to proceed.

Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo: How many witnesses do you have today?

Okalany: Three in court.

Lino: My lord my name is Anguzu Lino, this will be the 24th witness for the record. What is your name?

Nuwagaba: I am Charles Nuwagaba, 46 years old, an immigration officer in charge of Malaba border, resident of Malaba.

Lino: On the 29th of July 2015 , where were you at midday?

Nuwagaba: I was at Malaba executing my duties.

Lino: What happened that day in relation to this case?

Nuwagaba: I received communication from my Director Sasaaga Wanzira that I check the travel history of Suleiman Hijja Nyamandondo in our PISCES system.

Lino: And what is PISCES?

Nuwagaba: It stands for Personal Identification Secure Comparative Evaluation System. It is a data bank that captures all details of incoming and outgoing passengers. You can also refer to it as a computer system which shows time of entry and departure. It is managed by immigration officers on duty.

Lino: In your experience, is it possible to enter data in that system?

Nuwagaba: It is not possible.

Lino: So, did you check?

Nuwagaba: I checked and found that Nyamandondo was on record and I communicated to my boss. At around 3am the same day, I got communication that I prepare a report of my findings. As a secondary user of the system, I am allowed to use the system and when I opened it, I generated the report.

Lino: After that what did you do?

Nuwagaba: I was told by the director that a police officer will pick the report the same evening. At around 7:30pm, a police officer called David Kitongo came and I gave him the report.

[In the ensuing exchange, the witness reveals that Nyamandondo had entered through Malaba twice, on February 7, 2009, and May 9, 2010. The personal data was captured by the PISCES machine, but his picture was not taken because the equipment had not yet been upgraded.]

Lino: Why was Nyamandondo recorded as a pedestrian?

Nuwagaba: Being a border point it is the general term used for those crossing.

Lino: What about if somebody comes with a vehicle?

Nuwagaba: The vehicle is captured by Uganda Revenue Authority.

Lino: That is all.

Judge: Did you find Nyamandondo’s photograph when generating the report?

Nuwagaba: No. The provision for capturing photographs was instituted in 2010.

Judge: If you can capture information on other travel documents manually, why not photographs using this camera on the PISCES?

Nuwagaba: This technology was enhanced after 2010.

Judge: Can we have the next witness?

Okalany: [to next witness] can you tell court your name?

Nabeta: I am D/AIP Detective Inspector of Police Mathias Nabeta, 47 years old, working and residing in Soroti.

Okalany: Where were you working in 2010?

Nabeta: At CID headquarters, Naguru.

Okalany: Particularly on 25th August, where were you?

Nabeta: I was at my work station in Naguru.

Okalany: What happened on that day?

Nabeta: I was assigned by my Commandant then Grace Akullo currently Director of CIID.

Okalany: She was commandant of what?

Nabeta: Of the Special Investigation Unit, SIU.

Okalany: What assignment did she give you?

Nabeta: To proceed to the South Sudan border post of Bibia to establish whether Hassan Haruna Luyima had crossed into South Sudan before and after the bombing incident of 11th July 2010.

Okalany: What did you find?

Nabeta: I reached the Bibia-Atiak border on 31st August 2010 and introduced myself to the head of the immigration office Daniel Ambuyo and requested to know whether Hassan Haruna Luyima’s travel data was captured at this border post. This immigration officer brought the record file containing the departure declaration forms and we began checking through.

Okalany: Did you find anything?

Nabeta: I got the name of Hassan Haruna Luyima on one of the departure declaration cards dated 13th July 2010. That card also had passport No B0521535. I requested the immigration officer to allow me sign for this card and take it. I also asked him whether they had records of Ugandans who crossed to South Sudan. He said they had manual records. He brought a book, which indicated that on 13th July 2010, seven Ugandans including Hassan Luyima had crossed that border post.

Okalany: How did you obtain that information from that book?

Nabeta: The immigration officer wrote the list of people who had crossed from Uganda to South Sudan on a paper, signed, stamped it and gave it to me. I also signed for it. I brought it to our office and gave it to Detective Corporal Okello.

Okalany: If this declaration form is shown to you, can you identify it?

Nabeta: I can easily identify it.

Okalany: What would assist you to identify it?

Nabeta: I would see the name Hassan Haruna Luyima with the number of his passport. Witness is shown the document.

Okalany: What is that?

Nabeta: Your lord, this is a departure declaration form recorded in Bibia in respect of Hassan Haruna Luyima with passport No B0521535 and serial No 39727. According to the document, he was traveling to South Sudan on 13th July 2010.

Okalany: Can you recognize the list you obtained from Bibia border post?

Nabeta: I can because Hassan Haruna Luyima appears on it as N0. 7 with the same passport number with a stamp of the immigration office.

Judge: I hope you didn’t forge a stamp from Nkrumah or Nasser road.

Nabeta: It is not easy to forge.

Okalany: What is that?

Nabeta: This is a list of Ugandans who crossed to South Sudan between 12th and 13th July 2010. It is a document I got from Bibia immigration office with a stamp of the immigration office dated 31st August 2010.

Judge: Not 13th July 2010 as you have just stated?

Nabeta: Not 13th July.

Okalany: Can you read the full name that appears there?

Nabeta: Hassan Haruna Luyima.

Okalany: I apply to tender in the declaration identification document.

Kasirivu: My lord we have no objection.

Judge… I can’t allow that list. The real book where that information was extracted from is not as big as a Bible; it can be produced here.

Okalany: We have the book, this witness saw it and the author is also here.

Judge: I don’t know whether that list was extracted by the immigration officer. I would be treating you very lightly if I allowed this document; this is a serious case of murder and terrorism.

Okalany: That is all.

Alaka: Nabeta, did you make a statement?

Nabeta: I made it at Naguru CID headquarters.

Alaka: How can you identify your statement?

Nabeta: I signed it on 30th October 2011 and my name is there.

Alaka: After making this statement, did you later insert anything?

Nabeta: I did insert the name of Hassan Haruna Luyima.

Alaka: Did you counter-sign?

Nabeta: I did not.

Alaka: Did you have a declaration form you obtained from Bibia when recording the statement?

Nabeta: I did not have it.

Alaka: You went to Bibia on 30th August 2010 and made a statement on 30th October 2011. Did you refresh your mind by looking at the declaration form?

Nabeta: No. When I went to Bibia I could remember what transpired there. I always trust my mind.

Judge: Do you know what refreshing your mind is?

Nabeta: I understand.

Alaka: Have you ever attended a refresher course?

Nabeta: I have attended many; you read what you already know.

Alaka: Had you looked at this declaration form before you made a statement?

Nabeta: I did not.

Judge: He has a photographic mind. There is no crime in looking at the document again when you are coming to court. I would admire your mind if it can remember everything after a year.

Alaka: You also remembered the declaration card serial number and recollected the declaration form from your head?

Nabeta: Correct.

Alaka: Even the passport number?

Nabeta: That one is in my head.

Alaka: Luyima’s name was in your head?

Nabeta: Yes, Hassan Haruna Luyima.

Alaka: Were they three names?

Nabeta: They were.

Alaka: You stated in your statement of 31st August 2010 that the immigration officer Ambako gave you a declaration form which you handed over to Detective corporal Ronald Okello.

Nabeta: Yes.

Judge: We are just spending time. After a year, you remember all details! A witness comes to me claiming to know everything; it does not add value.

Nabeta: I understand.

Alaka: Does your statement indicate you collected these documents on 31st August 2010?

Nabeta: It is not there.

Alaka: How long have you worked in the police force?

Nabeta: For 24 years.

Alaka: In CID how long have you worked?

Nabeta: For 19 years.

Alaka: In a year, how many cases do you think you investigate or look into?

Nabeta: While in Kampala, I can handle 200 cases, but in Soroti only 26 in a year.

Judge: With the rampant cattle rustling in that region, how can you only investigate 26 cases? [The witness doesn’t answer the question.]

Alaka: How long did you work in Kampala?

Nabeta: Eight years.

Alaka: That is all from me.

Galisonga: For the record, I’m Julius Galisonga for the defense. Mathias, I guess by the time you were asked to go to Bibia, Hassan Luyima was in custody.

Nabeta: Yes.

Galisonga: I think at that time you knew he had crossed to South Sudan.

Nabeta: Correct.

Galisonga: And I hope your intention was to confirm the particular date he had travelled.

Nabeta: You are correct.

Galisonga: You never bothered to find out whether he had travelled before or after that date?

Nabeta: You are wrong.

Judge: Don’t say he is wrong; he may be correct.

Galisonga: How many times did you find out that Luyima had travelled to South Sudan?

Nabeta: I didn’t see any other record… [a phone rings in court].

Judge: [to a police officer] tell that lady she will get problems with that phone and anybody with a phone should switch it off.

Galisonga: No further questions.

Kasirivu: Nabeta, did you find out whether Luyima had entered South Sudan?

Nabeta: Going by the record, he had entered.

Kasirivu: Are you not aware that he can leave Uganda and does not enter South Sudan but stay in no man’s land?

Nabeta: The record shows he left Uganda and entered South Sudan.

Kasirivu: Have you ever looked at a Penal Code Act?

Nabeta: It was like my Bible [laughter].

Kasirivu: Look at section 94 [1] of this Act and read it.

Nabeta: Yes, it talks about perjury but I can’t read properly.

Judge: He did not come with his eyes, read for him.

Kasirivu: According to that section, you have committed perjury and according to section 77, when convicted, you are liable to imprisonment for seven years. Now I put it to you that you are a fabulous liar.

Judge: Do you understand what being a fabulous liar is? He says you are a big liar.

Kasirivu: I put it to you that after one year, you could not have that photographic mind. I pray that you be imprisoned for seven years for knowingly telling court lies.

Judge: Have you knowingly told court lies?

Nabeta: No, I took oath to tell the truth.

Judge: I get this from so many police officers. Between 2010 to date, you have handled hundreds of documents. There is nothing wrong in looking at documents for refreshment. Many police officers tend to think they have computer minds and think they can remember all things of 20 years off-the-cuff. I recommend that you are kept somewhere and you store all valuable information instead of sentencing you for perjury, which you have not committed anyway.

The suspects talking to their lawyers

Kasirivu: Supposing a truck was driven from Maputo, how will its date be captured from Bibia border post?

Nabeta: They have different books for Ugandans and foreigners.

Judge: Thank you, you can go [case adjourned for 10 minutes.

Jatiko: My Lord, I’m Thomas Jatiko for prosecution, I will be leading this 26th witness. State your name.

Ambako: I am Daniel Ambako Bella [Catholic, 36 years, senior immigration officer currently at Atiak-Bibia].

Jatiko: In August 2010, where were you?

Ambako: As the in charge of this immigration office, I was stationed at Atiak-Bibia border post. At 2pm, on 31st August 2010, I received a police officer who identified himself as Mathias. He sought my audience because he wanted to know Ugandans who crossed the border between 12th and 13th July 2010.

Jatiko: What did you do with this request?

Ambako: I cooperated because he said they could be suspects in the bombings that took place on July 11, 2010. I gave him the information. He came for a specific name, Hassan Haruna Luyima. I looked through our data and I availed the information bearing who crossed the border between 12th and 13th July 2010.

Jatiko: Who is this person who had traveled that day?

Ambako: Hassan Haruna Luyima.

Jatiko: What information were you assessing?

Ambako: To see if he had exited the country through the departure card centre.

Jatiko: How can you know that this is the departure card you handed over to the police officer?

Ambako: The card was given to me when I came to Kampala but we have the information in the book stating the name and the required data, which book is kept at the station.

Jatiko: Who enters the data into the bank?

Ambako: The record clerk Charles Ondoga who was an immigration assistant.

Jatiko: How long had you worked with him to that date?

Ambako: For three years.

Jatiko: What information did you extract from this book?

Ambako: I summarized the number of Ugandans who crossed the border on 12th and 13th July 2010 and their data. With serial No 39727, it bears our exit stamp and has the same information found in departure forms [card tendered in].

Jatiko: That is all.

Alaka: Ambako, was the departure declaration form signed by an immigration officer?

Ambako: It was not signed.

Alaka: Is there anything to show that that book belongs to the immigration?

Ambako: It doesn’t have.

Alaka: Is there anything to show when the book was opened and closed?

Ambako: No.

Alaka: Are the entries numbered?

Ambako: They are not numbered.

Alaka: If there are mistakes, does the immigration officer correct and counter-sign?

Ambako: No.

Alaka: Is there a column in the book showing the destination?

Ambako: No.

Alaka: Do you know the country called Sudan?

Ambako: I hear about it.

Alaka: Is there anything that is not correct in that book?

Ambako: No, if there are errors they are mine.

Alaka: If there is an error in a passport, is it a minor error?

Ambako: Not necessarily.

Alaka: Was this No 1270 on page one of the extract written by you?

Ambako: Yes.

Alaka: Is that a passport number?

Ambako: It is not a passport number.

Alaka: Would a third party know it is not a passport number yet it is in the slot of passport number?

Ambako: He wouldn’t, this could have been an error on my side.

Alaka: Were you looking at the extract when making a statement.

Ambako: No.

Alaka: Is the name Hassan Haruna Luyima reflected in the book?

Ambako: No, there is only Hassan Luyima, which appears twice [witness’ statement tendered in as defence exhibit].

Alaka: Go to page two of your statement and read the third sentence.

Ambako: It says: ‘he Luyima could have passed elsewhere or at Atiak border but he was aware of what was happening in the country’.

Alaka: Was that your opinion?

Ambako: Yes.

Alaka: That is all.

Galisonga: Ambako, did that police officer specify what he wanted from you?

Ambako: He told me he was interested in the data from 12th to 13th July 2010.

Galisonga: In short, he was not interested in different days other than 12th and 13th 2010?

Ambako: Yes.

Galisonga: Did you search the book together with him?

Ambako: Yes.

Galisonga: Why did you tell that police officer instead of you searching?

Ambako: I wanted to ease the process and save time.

Galisonga: That is all.

Kasirivu: After extracting that information did you have it authenticated?

Ambako: Yes, with a stamp.

Kasirivu: Don’t you think you should have gone to either the area magistrate or commissioner of oaths to certify it?

Ambako: We didn’t know it would be required in court.

Kasirivu: So you failed to think [laughter].

Judge: No, Ambako you did not fail to think, you stamped it.

Kasirivu: That is all.

Jatiko: Is there a column for destination in the extract?

Ambako: No.

Jatiko: What is the title you gave to this extract?

Ambako: People who went to Sudan on 12th and 13th July 2010.

Jatiko: Can you explain why the name Haruna is not in your statement?

Ambako: That name was not there in the departure form.

Jatiko: That is all.

Judge: Was the heading of the extract correct?

Ambako: No, I put the name Sudan instead of South Sudan. It could have been an oversight.

Judge: Thank you, the case is adjourned.


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