The High Court in Kampala has dismissed the bail application filed by Sheikh Siraje Yusuf Nyanzi the prime suspect in the murder of the driver and daughter of Transport and Works Minister General Edward Katumba Wamala.
Nyanzi is jointly charged with five other suspects for attempted murder, terrorism, and the murder of Brenda Nantongo Katumba and Sergeant Haruna Kayondo which occurred on June 1st, 2021 at Kisasi Zone in Kampala District.
Nyanzi through his lawyers of Wameli and Company Advocates applied for bail before the High Court Criminal Division.
Nyanzi asked the court to be granted bail on grounds that he is presumed innocent until proven guilty, has a fixed place of residence, is a family man with a wife and ten children to look after and that once released on bail, he will not abscond from the trial.
Court also heard that once given bail, Nyanzi is not going to interfere with the ongoing investigations and that his trial has not yet started which he was concerned that it is most likely to delay.
He asked to be given temporary freedom adding that he had substantial sureties.
Nyanzi presented his wife Summayyah Musa Namulindwa, his brother-in-law Jamilu Ssebaduka a businessman dealing in clothes, and a friend Yusuf Jumah Ssemigabo a businessman and the Director Answar Moslem High School as his sureties.
But the prosecution opposed the case relying on an affidavit sworn by Desire Wandera a Detective Assistant Inspector of Police attached to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Wandera asked the court to deny Nyanzi bail on grounds that previously, he belonged to the Allied Democratic Forces a prescribed terrorist group, and was granted amnesty by the Government of Uganda in 2013 which he violated.
The prosecution further opposed bail saying that Nyanzi is charged with seven offences that involve personal violence which upon conviction carry the maximum sentence of death and as such, he is most likely to abscond from the trial once released.
However, while delivering his ruling on Thursday, the Deputy Criminal Division Registrar Festo Nsenga on behalf of Justice Paul Gadenya Wolimbwa dismissed the application on grounds that Nyanzi is facing a multiplicity of capital offences which attract a maximum sentence death penalty upon conviction and that if he was to give bail in such a matter, he would order for 150 million shillings, not cash.
According to Justice Gadenya, this means that if Nyanzi absconds from the trial, his sureties would be compelled to pay it to the Government of Uganda. But the judge ruled that he was not sure that the sureties presented by Nyanzi could pay it if he absconds.
“From the available information presented on the sureties by the applicant, I’m not in a position to determine whether the sureties have sufficient means to execute the said bond. In the absence of this information I am unable to hold that the sureties are substantial”, said Gadenya.
Gadenya added that there was a certificate of amnesty brought on-court record but Nyanzi denied it yet when he looks at the available information, the certificate belongs to him.
“The applicant denied being the one named in the amnesty certificate. However, I do not doubt that based on the available record information, the person named in the amnesty certificate is the applicant/Nyanzi. Given the negative experiences of the applicant and risks attendant to releasing him on bail, I am convinced that the applicant has not made out a case to be granted bail”, said Gadenya.
Nyanzi’s lawyer Geoffrey Turyamusiima says that they are not happy with the decision and vowed to make a second attempt for bail.
The Prosecution alleges that Nyanzi and others are still at large between March 2021 and June 2021, with intent to intimidate the public or section of the public and for political-religious social or economic aim indiscriminately without due regard to the safety of others directly involved themselves in the murder and attempted murder of Police personnel and civilians.
According to the prosecution they attempted to murder Katumba Wamala and Boniface Mucunguzi, a bystander during the shooting that left the former Chief of Defense Forces’ daughter and a driver dead.
Besides this case, Nyanzi is charged on two other separate files with which he was given bail by the International Crimes Division of the High Court.
The files include one where he is accused of murdering Uganda People’s Defense Forces’ Officer Major Muhammad Kiggundu and his bodyguard Sergeant Steven Mukasa who was shot dead in Masanafu a Kampala Suburb on November 26th 2016.
The other is the murder of the former Police Spokesperson Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kawesi, his bodyguard Kenneth Erau and driver Godfrey Mambewa which occurred on March 17, 2017.
Nyanzi now remains on remand at Kitalya Min Max Prison as investigations into the charges against him continue.