By Michael Odeng and Farooq Kasule
Embattled MPs Muhammad Ssegirinya and Allan Ssewanyana have been released on bail after spending 524 days on remand at Kitalya Prisons.
The High Court at Masaka presided over by Justice Lawrence Tweyanze granted each of the accused a cash bail of sh20m after finding their sureties substantial.
The sureties were directed to execute a non-cash bond of sh50m.
The court also ordered Ssegirinya (Kawempe North) and Ssewanyana (Makindye West) to deposit their passports in court.
“I find that the sureties are substantial. However, should the applicants interfere with the prosecution’s witnesses and investigations, their bail will be cancelled,” the judge warned.
Some of sureties are Masaka city mayor Florence Namayanja and Makindye mayor Ali Mulyanyama.
Earlier, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Jane Frances Abodo, said she had no objection to their release on bail.
This followed an application by Ssegirinya and Ssewanyana, asking the court to release them on bail, citing ill-health and delayed trial.
The two MPs, who have spent over 14 months on remand at Kitalya Prison, were seeking bail in a case in which they are accused of killing Joseph Bwanika, a resident of Kisseka B village in Lwengo district.
Bwanika was among the over 20 people that were killed in the 2021 indiscriminate machete attacks in the greater Masaka region. The two MPs were charged with the murder of Bwanika barely a week after they had been granted bail on other charges.
The MPs also face charges of murder, terrorism and attempted murder, emanating from spate of killings in Masaka alongside five other people. The others are Bulo Wamala, John Mugerwa, Jackson Kanyike, Mike Sserwadda and Jude Muwonge.
When the bail hearing resumed Monday before Masaka High Court Judge Lawrence Tweyanze, State Attorneys Richard Birivumbuka and Joseph Kyomuhendo withdrew affidavits sworn by two top officials from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the investigating officer.
They are assistant DPP Thomas Jatiko, Jennifer Amumpaire and Superintendent of Police Innocent Mubangizi.
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Birivumbuka also tendered in court a certificate of no objection to the legislator’s bail application, signed by Abodo on January 23, 2023.
This means the MPs release on bail lies on the discretion of the Judge after their lawyers submit on the bail application. The defence lawyers are Caleb Alaka, Erias Lukwago and Samuel Muyizzi Mulindwa, Medard Sseggona, Evans Ochieng and John Matovu.
Prosecution alleges that between January and August 2021, the accused and others 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 the greater Masaka region.
The indictment indicates that the accused targeted the Masaka region because it allegedly attracts a lot of media attention.
The two MPs allegedly facilitated their co-accused with cash ranging between shillings 50,000 to shillings 100,000 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.