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Jailed MPs Lose Bid Challenging Re-Arrest

Sewanyana and Ssegirinya, were first arrested on September 7th, 2021 alongside seven others in connection to the machete killings in greater Masaka districts .
The jailed MPs Ssegirinya and Ssewanyana at Court . File Photo.

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The International Crimes Division of the High Court has dismissed an application filed by jailed MPs Muhammad Ssegirinya and Allan Sewanyana in which they were seeking a  compensation of 300 million shillings and a declaration that their rearrest shortly after being granted bail was a violation of their human rights . 

Sewanyana and Ssegirinya, were first arrested on September 7th, 2021 alongside seven others in connection to the machete killings in greater Masaka districts .

They were later on 21st, September, 2021 granted bail, but they were shortly after re-arrested from the outskirts of Kigo Prisons on fresh murder charges preferred against them stemming from the Lwengo district machete killings where more than 20 people were killed.

Following their rearrest, Ssegirinya and Sewanyana's lawyers including Samuel  Muyizzi Mulindwa,  Shamim Malende and Kassim Sekalema, the legislators petitioned the  International Crimes Division of the High Court seeking compensation of 300 million shillings and release from prison where they argued that their clients were  illegally being imprisoned.

The lawyers told Court that the legislators were illegally rearrested because they had shortly been granted bail by Justice Victoria Katamba and fulfilled all the bail terms including payment of 20 million shillings each.

The Court heard that Ssegirinya and Ssewanyana were tortured, manhandled to the extent of causing them bruises and injuries on their bodies which was inhuman, degrading and also a violation of their human rights enshrined in the constitution.

But the  Prosecution led by Richard Birivumbuka opposed their application saying the two are properly in jail at Kigo prison because they have pending murder charges on which Masaka High Court Judge Lawrence Tweyanze denied them bail.

In her ruling delivered on Wednesday afternoon, Justice Elizabeth Alidviza found out that the manner in which the MPs were rearrested was irregular and inhuman but declined to order government to compensate them saying that they have pending murder charges.

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Justice Alidviza added that the MPs are in lawful custody at Kigo Prison and as such the order requesting for the declaration that they are in unlawful custody and subsequent  release pending trial is therefore unattainable.

She accordingly ordered the MPs to reappear in Court on 19th, July, 2022 for their case to be mentioned. The ruling by Alidviza has been read by the International Crimes Division Registrar Pamela Lamunu in open Court in Kampala. 

The ruling by the  International Crimes Division of the High Court comes a few hours after the Court of Appeal Justices comprised by Cheborion Barishaki, Christopher Izama Madrama and Eva Luswata declined to entertain the MPs' bail appeal saying it had no jurisdiction to do so.

On 25th, October 2021, Masaka High Court Judge Lawrence Tweyanze denied them bail on grounds that they are accused of a string of Capital offenses that all attract a maximum of the death penalty and that the MPs could flee from justice and given their position in society as lawmakers, they would interfere with the trial process.

However disatisfied with the decision to deny them bail, they appealed in the Court of Appeal which today dismissed it earlier in the morning for lack of jurisdiction.

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