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MPs Ssegirinya, Ssewanyana denied bail again

Jailed Opposition legislators Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West) and Muhammad Ssegirinya (Kawempe North) have today again failed to secure bail as highly anticipated after the State filed an application seeking to amend the charge sheet in their murder case.

The prosecution led by Mr Richard Birivumbuka told the court presided over by Masaka Grade One Magistrate, Ms Christine Nantegge that he wants to amend the charge sheet and sought adjournment with the assurance that the duo will be committed to High Court in the next sitting.
“Last time, we told the court that we intend to commit the accused persons to the High Court today [Thursday], however, we need to make some amendments before we commit them, and on the next adjournment, there will be no more excuse,” he said.

However, the defence lawyer, Ms Shamim Malende objected to Mr Birivumbuka’s prayers saying that the unfilled promises by the State are just delaying tactics, adding that if the State cannot adduce evidence against her clients, they should instead be set free.

“We ask the court to add its voice by condemning this kind of behavior by the State and we pray that the court agrees with us and release legislators if the State is not ready to commit them to the High Court today as promised, it’s incumbent upon the court to show the public that justice is done,” she said.

Ms Malende added that it is disturbing that the State had not made any application of amending the charge sheet yet they had ample time since September when the duo was arrested.

“Even when they appeared before the court in February, the State never told the court that they intend to make amendments in the charge sheet. I am wondering why the State is raising this issue now.

I ask this honourable court to reject the State application and exercise its discretion and release the accused persons,” she said, adding: “If the State thinks that the case file has some anomalies, let them seek leave of court and refer the case file back to Director of Public Prosecution for advice and the accused persons get released as they conclude the investigations.”

Mr Birivumbuka however told the court that the amendments in the charge sheet were not in bad faith, adding that he is sure that the State will be ready with the amended charge sheet and committal papers in the next court sitting.

“This court has no powers to free the accused persons today since they haven’t clocked the mandatory period of 180 days on remand. We need to do small amendments to the charge sheet and it’s not in bad faith. I don’t control retrieval of evidence and I never said that committal will be ready today,” he said.

However, the court session was interrupted for some minutes as Ssegirinya’s mother Ms Justine Nakajjumba Sanyu, broke down in tears, accusing the State and court of not being fair to his son. It took the intervention of the police officer to direct Ms Nakajjumba out of the courtroom so that the court could proceed.

Mr Ssegirinya, who was following the proceedings via zoom link from Kigo Prison, told the court that up to now, his children have not yet returned to school and his projects stalled and asked the court to grant him bail since they had already lined up substantial sureties.

In response, Mr Birivumbuka said: “But it’s also important to start management of some projects by delegation, you can’t be a sole manager of everything.”
Ms Nantegge adjourned the matter to March 23 to enable the State to make some amendments to the charge sheet and complete the process of preparing committal papers.

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