Assassination of Ugandan Prosecutor halts al-Shabaab trial

Police forensic experts at scene of the murder of Ugandan Prosecutor

Police forensic experts at scene of Joan Kagezi’s shooting

The trial of the 2010 Kampala bomb suspects has stalled following the killing of Joan Kagezi, the acting Deputy Director Public Prosecutions and Chief Prosecutor in the case. Kagezi has been prosecuting 13 al-Shabaab suspects charged with the July 2010 Kampala twin bombings at Ethiopian village restaurant in Kabalagala and Kyadondo rugby club.

The men are Hussein Hassan Agade, Idris Magondu, Mohamed Adan Abdou, Omar Awadi Omar, Mohamad Hamid Suleiman, Yahaya Sulaiman Mbuthia, Suleiman Njoroge, Isa Ahmed Luyima, Hassan Huruna Luyima, Sulaiman Hija Nyamandondo, Abubaker Batematyo and Dr Ismail Kalule who is also facing a charge of aiding and abetting terrorism.

Defense lawyers led by Caleb Alaka were scheduled to continue cross examining Muhamood Mugisha, the first prosecution witness. However, this didn’t take place following the shooting of Kagezi in Kiwatule, a Kampala city suburb on Monday night when she stopped to buy some vegetables by the roadside.

Then Tuesday morning, the defense lawyers led by Caleb Alaka and state attorney Lino Anguzu held a crisis meeting with the presiding judge Alphonse Owiny-Dollo in his chambers at Kampala high court to chat a way forward.

But after the crisis meeting that lasted about thirty minutes, the sobbing lawyers left the court premises tight lipped of what had transpired in the meeting held in the judge’s chambers.

The suspects were not produced in court from Luzira Maximum prison where they are on remand despite the heavy deployment of counter terrorism police outside the court premises. Erias Kisawuzi, the Judiciary spokesperson told journalists shortly after the crisis meeting that the hearing of the case wouldn’t go on as planned given the circumstances.

He however, didn’t explain when the hearing would resume. Kisawuzi also promised that government would beef up security of judicial officials and state prosecutors.

Earlier, the Ugandan Parliament tasked General Aronda Nyakairima, the Internal Affairs Minister to issue a comprehensive statement on the killing of Joan Kagezi.

While opening the plenary session on Tuesday afternoon, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah asked government to investigate the circumstances surrounding Kagezi’s death.

He said Kagezi’s shooting is a matter of concern not only for Parliament but all Ugandans. Oulanyah said he had read about several mysterious deaths adding that, he has asked Aronda to come to the house and explain what is happening.

He however, blocked the house from debating the matter until the Minister gives explanations on the status of investigations.

Shortly after Oulanyah’s statement, Mohammed Muwanga Kivumbi, the Shadow Internal Affairs minister criticized police for its laxity to protect citizens. Kivumbi wondered why there is increased deployment in the city yet citizens are being murdered.

Gen. Aronda told journalists outside parliament that Kagezi’s could be linked to organized crime. Aronda also dismissed earlier claims by Fred Enanga, the police spokesperson that Kagezi had rejected police protection. Earlier, Uganda Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Gen. Kahinda Otafiire cautioned the public against speculating on the prosecutor’s death.

According to a statement issued by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Kagezi’s body will be laid to rest tomorrow (Thursday) at Bukasa, Buloba along Mityana Road. Janet Kitimbo, the deputy DPP spokesperson says a requiem will be held the same day at St Luke Church Ntinda starting at 10am.