Court throws out Consolidation of charges plea

The International Crimes Division (ICD) of the High Court has dismissed an application on the consolidation of cases against Hon. Allan Ssewanyana and Hon. Mohammed Ssegirinya.

Justice Alice Kyomuhangi threw out the application on grounds that her court has no jurisdiction and that justice can still prevail if cases are tried in two different courts. She further stated that consolidation of criminal cases doesn’t exist in the procedure of criminal matters and the laws in Uganda, except for civil matters.

On November 21, 2021, Masaka Chief Magistrate’s court committed the MPs together with Jackson Kanyike,  John Mugerwa, Bull Wamala, Mike Sserwadda, and Jude Muwonge to face trial in the International Crimes Division on a string of charges including murder, attempted murder, aiding, and abetting terrorism.

The charges were slapped on the group following machete killings between March and June 2021 in the Greater Masaka Region.

As a result, the Masaka file containing terrorism charges was separated from the Lwengo file of murder, and all the seven suspects in the terrorism case were committed to the International Crimes Division to face trial.

Court throws out Consolidation of charges plea

But the Lwengo file where the MPs are charged with Wilson Ssenyonga was instead committed to the Masaka High Court for trial where it is still pending.

Last week when the file containing terrorism charges was before the court, lawyers representing the MPs asked Court to consolidate the files to avoid abuse of the Court process and based on the fact that the charges are from related incidents.

In her ruling, Justice Komuhangi stated that failure by the court to order the merger of charges and persons doesn’t prejudice their right to a fair hearing and that they can be safely and fairly charged separately.

Court also heard an application for bail from lawyers of the accused Samuel Muyiizi and Shamim Malende, to which the judge adjourned the ruling to October 03 , 2022.

In court, Makindye West MP Ssewanyana expressed concern at the state hiding the witnesses under the protection program instead of presenting them in person. However, Justice Kyomuhangi told the accused not to worry as justice will still prevail.

Samuel Muyiizi, the lawyer to the jailed MPs says they will consider appealing this ruling after consulting with their clients. He adds that they were shocked to hear that the ICD doesn’t have unlimited jurisdiction on the matter they sought to combine cases that arise from the same region.

He explained that consolidating offenses of murder from the Greater Masaka Region would avoid double jeopardy but also ensure a fair hearing for his clients.

“Court says it doesn’t have unlimited jurisdiction, the High court in Masaka and the ICD are the same level. The judge said she can join the charges but cannot force another person added unto the accused persons on another file to join this court. The person will be a stranger but we disagree,” he said adding that “This decision means that even our bail application before this honorable court may not be considered because if the other file. So I can be held on account of murder from one court given bail and again arrested and presented in another court.”

Compiled by Rashidah Nakaayi