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MPs Ssegirinya, Ssewanyana Finally Granted Bail

After nearly 16 months on remand MPs; Allan Ssewanyana and Muhammad Ssegirinya have finally been granted bail. Masaka High court resident judge, Lawrence Tweyanze granted the two legislators temporary freedom on Monday afternoon following alleged negotiations between the opposition and the state.

The legislators were jailed on a spiral of charges including attempted murder, murder, and terrorism following their arrest on September 7, 2021. The suspects, who attended court via video link from Kigo prisons applied for bail through their lawyers Caleb Alaka, Medard Sseggona, and Erias Lukwago on grounds of ill health.

Before the ruling, Richard Birivumbuka, the Masaka resident chief state attorney on behalf of the director of public prosecutions (DPP) asked to withdraw their affidavits that sought to challenge the legislator’s earlier bail applications.

He told the court that the DPP had instructed him not to further object to the bail application and asked the court to set very stringent conditions for the legislators to ensure that they don’t disrupt their trial. Biribimbuka withdrew the affidavits sworn by Jenipher Amumpaire and Thomas Jatiko, both assistant DPPs and Innocent Mubangizi, a police detective, who had earlier expressed fear that the MPs would use their status to interfere with the prosecution and threaten prosecution witnesses.

In the earlier bail applications, the state had told the court that the two MPs were likely to compromise the ongoing investigations because some of their accomplices are still at large. However, on Monday, Biruvumbuka told the court that they are no longer opposed to the bail application. He presented to the court a certificate of no objection by the DPP, indicating that it was issued based on the critical health condition of the two MPs.

He prayed that court asks that the accused persons deposit their passports with the court and are bonded with substantially large sums of monwy and commit to return to the court whenever needed. The other conditions include, not leaving the country without leave of the High court and noninterference with state witnesses.

In his ruling, Lawrence Tweyanze granted the accused persons cash bail of Shs 20 million each, and granted the prayers of the state, except for restricting the legislators from moving out of the country. The court also bonded each of the legislator’s sureties including Kalungu West MP, Joseph Ssewungu, Masaka City mayor Florence Namayanja, Former Lubaga North MP, Moses Kasibante, and Kawempe Division councilors Thomas Bagonza at Shs 50 million not in cash.

Justice Tweyanze ordered the MPs to report to the International Crimes Division of the High court in Kampala once every month. However, Lukwago, one of the accused’s lawyers expressed dissatisfaction with the high bond fees. He said that it was unfair for the court to ask for an additional Shs 20 million from the MPs without considering the fees they earlier deposited with the same court.

“In the earlier bail application after which our clients were rearrested, they had paid cash of Shs 20 million, which we expected the court to carry forward. Given the long time they have been in jail, these MPs don’t have this money,” he argued shortly after the ruling.

The prosecution alleges that the two MPs physically participated and conspired with other people to execute machete murders in Greater Masaka with the intent to intimidate the public for political, religious, social, or economic gains.

They are also facing charges of terrorism and aiding terrorism, which they allegedly coordinated between January and August 2021 in the greater Masaka sub-region.   

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