After months of detention without trial, nine Muslim clerics accused of murder and terrorism have applied to the Constitutional court for their release.
The clerics who filed the application on August 21 include Sheikh Mohamad Yunus Kamoga, head of the Tabliq sect in Uganda, Sheikh Siraje Kawooya, Sheikh Murta Mudde Bukenya, and Sheikh Fahad Kalungi. Their co-accused are Abdulsalaam Sekayanja, Abdulhamid Mubiru Sematimba, Rashid Jjingo, Twaha Sekitto and Yusuf Kakande.
They are accused of masterminding last year’s killings of Sheikh Mustafa Bahiiga at Bwebajja Mosque on Entebbe road and Shiite leader Sheikh Abdul Kadir Muwaya in Mayuge district. They are also charged with terrorism, crimes against humanity, and attempted murder, alongside Australia-based Cardiologist Dr Aggrey Kiyingi.
In their petition, the nine clerics claim their continued incarceration at Murchison Bay prison is in blatant violation of their fundamental human rights and abuse of all due legal process.
Through Muwema and company advocates, the suspects accuse the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) of being in contempt of High court orders. The claim stems from a March 24, 2015 order from International Crimes division judge Ezekiel Muhanguzi to the DPP, to give the defence lawyers the evidence against them within two months, which order has been ignored since.
According to the clerics, by ignoring the court order, the DPP is not only undermining court’s powers to administer justice but also obstructing justice as expected to be delivered by the court. The clerics also accused the High court’s International Crimes division of condoning the disobedience of its orders by the DPP.
“The act by the High court allows undue advantage and favours the prosecution, which is discriminatory, promotes inequality before and under the law and is contrary to and in contravention of Articles 2, 20, 21, 28, 44,126 and 128 of the Constitution,” they contend.
On June 12, 2015, the clerics’ lawyers wrote to the DPP saying:
“Our clients may never know why the police brazenly arrested them and your office hurriedly charged them with such crimes without any sound legal basis. This has led to a travesty of justice and abuse of legal process.”
“Matters have not been helped by the fact that our reminders to avail this evidence have been roundly ignored by your office. It must be remembered that pre-trial disclosure of evidence is a right and not a privilege granted at the discretion of the prosecution.”
In their petition, the accused said their detention at the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) at Kireka between January, 7 and 20, 2015 on charges of murder was without any reasonable cause.
“The act of police of meting out physical and psychological torture through beatings and assaults, rendering inhuman and degrading treatment against the petitioners whilst they were under detention at the SIU Kireka and at the same time confiscating their personal properties like motor vehicles, money and mobile phones is inconsistent with articles 2, 20, 24, 26, 28, 44and 212 of the constitution,” they said.
Contacted on August 21, the DPP’s spokesperson, Jane Okuo Kajuga, declined to comment, saying she had not read the petition.