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Sheikh Mwanje renews quest for bail after trial fails to take off again

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JUSTICE | Sheikh Yahaya Ramadhan Mwanje has asked the International Crimes Division (ICD) of the High Court to consider as a matter of urgency his right to bail and fix an application.

The former Tabliq leader, through his lawyers, Muwema and Company Advocates, decided to take that route because in August Justice Duncan Gaswaga put a plug on his bail hearing and instead ordered that the main trial should start not later than September 30.

Justice Gaswaga ordered Harriet Ssali, the ICD registrar, to give effect to his orders. He also ordered the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) — who did not respond to Mwanje’s bail application — to disclose all evidence they intend to rely on during trial to Mwanje’s legal team.

But the trial of a case in which Sheikh Mwanje is accused of killing Maj Muhammed Kiggundu did not take off as ordered by Gaswanga yet Mwanje continues to wallow in jail.

In an October 2 letter to the IDC registrar, Mwanje’s lawyers have informed the court that they are yet to give up on the bail application.

“The trial has not commenced as per the order of the court and no known date for hearing of the same matter is anticipated in the near future to the detriment of our client’s right to a speedy and fair trial,”
the letter reads in part.

The purpose of the letter, Muwema and Company Advocates, told Ssali, is “to request you to urgently fix the application for bail hearing to avoid further violation of our client’s constitutional right to bail.”

Mwanje, 52, and three others are accused of murdering Sheikh Major Kiggundu and his bodyguard two years ago.

The state claims that Mwanje, Muhammad Buyondo, 43, Abdu Wahab Ssendegeya , 37 , Musa Ssekandi 42, on November 26, 2016 at Masanafu trading centre, Lubaga Division in the Kampala ended Kiggundu’s life.

Kiggundu was showered with bullets by assailants who trailed him on motorcycles. He was gunned down on Northern Bypass together with his bodyguard, Sgt. Steven Mukasa.

So far, the ICD has granted bail to Ssendegeya and Ssekandi bail but it has been hesitant to hear the Mawnje’s bail application.

Two years on remand without trial

In his bail application, Mwanje said that he has been on remand for close to two years without trial and apparently all efforts to have the case fixed and disclosure of evidence to be relied upon by the state have been fruitless.

Through Muwema and company advocates and solicitors, Mwanje had buttressed his bail application on ground that he doesn’t know when the murder case will be heard and the basis of the charges against him.

In his affidavit in support of the application, Mwanje took back court to the events of April, 28, 2017 when he first applied for bail but he says that instead the High Court fixed the case for trial on August,
7, 2017.

Though the same court directed prosecution to disclose all material evidence and statements, he says that order has never been complied with.

On September 4, 2017, he says the state dropped murder charges against but to his “consternation” and “dismay” as soon as the “Nolle prosequi” was issued, the same charges were reinstated against
him but this time he says the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) added aiding and abetting terrorism on his charge sheet.

“That through my lawyers, I have also requested for my trial to be fixed so that I’m accorded my constitutional right to speedy trial without success,” Mwanje said, adding that although he has continued demand for disclosure of evidence that state intends to rely against him and have the matter fixed for trial, he says he has never succeeded in both.

Mwanje further asserts that he is the sole bread winner of his family which is currently suffering in his absentia and his business which he used to run he says have collapsed due to what he calls unjustified incarceration.

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