The hearing of the bail application of Sheikh Muhammad Yunus Kamoga at the Court of Appeal has flopped today after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) turned up in court without a written reply to the application.
Last year, Kamoga filed the bail application in the Appellant Court three months after the International Crimes Division of the High court sentenced him to life in prison; having found him guilty of some ingredients of terrorism.
But today when the case was laid before Justice Christopher Madrama, who was sitting as a single judge of the Court of Appeal, State Attorney Lillian Omara Alum indicated that she wasn’t ready to proceed since the DPP is yet to respond in writing to the bail application
She explained that the police is still verifying some documents she didn’t mention and apparently only then shall the DPP file a response.
“We need more time to verify some documents and also some need the names of the sureties that they have indicated that will stand for the applicant,” Omara said.
In his application, Kamoga through Muwema and Company Advocates said he needs his freedom back because there is a possibility of substantial delay in determination of his appeal as there are a series of cases pending and those that are already fixed for the next criminal session.
Though he was sentenced with five others, it is only Kamoga who has applied for bail on grounds that, among others, he is 60 years old – a person of advanced age; – one of the grounds on which a bail application can be based.
The Muslim cleric also says he has substantial sureties who are “ready and shall abide by the terms of the bail set by court.”
On August 21, 2017, Kamoga; his brother Sheikh Murta Mudde Bukenya, Sheikh Siraje Kawooya and Sheikh Fahad Kalungi were convicted of terrorism and consequently condemned to spend the rest of their lives in jail by Justices Ezekiel Muhanguzi, Percy Tuhaise and Jane Kiggundu.
Their co-accused Yusuf Kakande and Abdulsalam Sekayanja were sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Though they were acquitted of charges of murdering sheikhs Ibrahim Hassan Kirya and Mustapha Bahiga and attempting to murder Prince Kassim Nakibinge, the titular head of the Muslim community in Uganda, Haruna Jjemba, Najib Ssonko and Mahmood Kibaate, they didn’t have the same luck when it came to the terrorism charge.
They were found guilty after the three judges found them culpable of “threatened murder,” one of the ingredients for proving terrorism.
The prosecution had the burden of proving beyond reasonable doubt, that at least one of the four ingredients of terrorism: actual murder, attempted murder, threatened murder and maiming or attack on a person or group of persons in a public or private institution.
Prosecution led by Principal State Attorney Lino Anguzu proved threatened murder. Justice Muhaguzi said Kamoga, Kawooya, Bukenya and Kalungi were handed a severe sentence because they were leaders who should have led by example.
He said Kakande and Sekayanja walked off with a lesser sentence because they were just followers.
Now, Kamoga hinges his bail application on an appeal filed in the Court of Appeal in which he challenges both his conviction and sentence.
He says he has been informed by his lawyers that his appeal has plausible grounds of success since no murder or attempted murder was ever proved against him, and yet, according to him, the terrorism charge was drawn around the murder counts.
Kamoga has no kind words for the international crimes division, saying it is frustrating the appeal process. He asserts that immediately after the judgement, he wrote to the trial court requesting for a typed and certified record of proceedings so as to facilitate his appeal process but it has not been availed to either him or his lawyers.
Kamoga says bail should be granted to him since he is of “good character, a religious leader or Muslim cleric” with “a huge following” and “a law-abiding citizen.”
“I don’t intend to abscond from the jurisdiction of this honourable court and I have a permanent and fixed place of abode at Tula Village Local Council 1 Kawempe within the jurisdiction of this court,” Kamoga says, adding that he is ready to fulfil all conditions set by the court upon granting him bail.
Upon the request of Friday Roberts Kagolo who is Kamoga’s lawyer, Justice Madrama adjourned the case to May 2, 2018. By then it’s expected that the state would have filed a response.