City lawyers have slammed the sentencing of Muslim leaders to life imprisonment on terrorism charges citing lack of evidence and illegality of the whole process.
The convicted clerics include Sheikh Muhammad Yunus Kamoga, his brother Murtadha Mudde Bukenya, Siraji Kawoya, and Fahad Kalungi.
The four were found guilty of terrorism by a panel of three judges in the International Crimes Division of High Court comprising of Justice Ezekiel Muhanguzi, Percy Tuhaise and Jane Kiggundu and handed life sentences.
The same court also handed their co-accused Yusuf Kakande and Abdusalam Sekayanja 30- year-jail sentences.
However, court exonerated all the accused of the murder and attempted murder charges, saying prosecution had failed to convince court of their involvement in the crime.
Court also released 8 other suspects who had been incarcerated with the accused on the same charges.
Appearing on NBS TV “morning breeze” programme Thursday morning, human rights lawyer, Nick Opiyo, said the sentence of the court should be based on the evidence presented before court.
“There’s lack of clarity whether life imprisonment means sentencing you for the rest of your life. This case is going to provide clarity.”
He said in this case, the court pointed out what seems as shoddy work by the investigators because no sufficient evidence was provided.
“Dying declaration must be collaborated with some evidence; there should be actions that point to the intent,” Opiyo noted, adding that the judge said there was no collaborating evidence to support the dying declaration.
“We need to interrogate who is killing people; we are tired of IGP’s song of ‘leaving no stone unturned’. There are many stones on his head,” he concluded.
Counsel Ladislaus Rwakafuzi who was appearing on the same show, said the sentences were not lawful noting that the longest sentence of imprisonment can only be 20 years according to article 26.
“Two years ago, I made an application to know what court meant by life imprisonment, Supreme Court said life imprisonment meant 20 years,” he said, adding, “As far as I’m concerned today, it’s illegal to sentence people to 30 years and those who were imprisoned for life, it means 20 years.”
According to Rwakafuzi, when the Kamogas were behind bars, several murders happened and murder attempts were made.
“Police are very poorly facilitated and remunerated. We can point fingers at these police officers, life is hard for them.”
He said beyond Kampala, people report to police and family of the deceased transport the CID to murder scenes and nothing is done.
Siraje Kifampa, the Spokesperson Jamatil Dawatil Salafiyah, condemned the convictions saying the sentencing of the clerics was politically motivated.
“The judges didn’t speak their minds, but rather to be influenced by a superior political power,” Kifampa said in a statement, adding, “Where below the sun can you distort evidence in one particular case, but at the same time use the very evidence you distorted to convict someone…?”
He said although the learned judges, claim there was sufficient evidence to convict the clerics for verbal terrorism, there was no evidence to back them claim.
“Not even a single voice, audio or video whatsoever was presented in court to that effect. Now where is beyond reasonable doubt in this evidence?”