By Farooq Kasule
The hearing of the constitutional petition filed by jailed lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi over the trial of embattled Members of Parliament (MPs) Muhammad Ssegirinya and Allan Ssewanyana hit a snag Thursday, October 13, after one of the judges recused himself.
Immediately after Mabirizi stood up to present his case, Justice Christopher Gashirabake said he cannot preside over cases involving Mabirizi anymore in the pendency of the case that Mabirizi lodged at the East African Court of Justice concerning his appointment.
The recusal of Gashirabake caused lack of quorum because under the law, constitutional matters are supposed to be heard by a panel of not less than five justices.
After Gashirabake’s recusal, the other members on the panel Justices: Fredrick Egonda-Ntende, Elizabeth Musoke, Monica Mugenyi and Christopher Madrama deferred hearing of the petition to the next court’s convenient session.
In his petition, Mabirizi wants the Constitutional Court to declare a separate trial of the MPs unconstitutional imprisonment, arguing that it amounts to double jeopardy.
In the first case, the MPs together with Bulo Wamala, John Mugerwa, Jackson Kanyike and Mike Sserwadda have been indicted with the murder of Mugerwa Kizza, Sulaiman Kakooza, attempted murder of Ronald Sebyoto, terrorism and abetting terrorism.
In the second case, the MPs together with Wilson Ssenyonga alias Tony Nyonga, are charged with the murder of Joseph Bwanika, a resident of Kisseka B village in Lwengo district.
Prosecution alleges that between January and August, 2021, the accused and other still at large, with intent to intimidate the public for political religious or economic aim, indiscriminately directly involved themselves in the murder and terror acts in Masaka region.
The indictment indicates that the accused targeted the Masaka region because it attracts a lot of media attention.
The two MPs allegedly facilitated their co-accused with cash ranging between sh50,000 and sh100,000 to execute the mission, according to the indictment presented in court by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).
The indictment indicates that the attacks were aimed at instilling fear in the people and eventually discrediting the Government.