Jailed city lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi has petitioned Masaka High court to halt the criminal trial of Kawempe North MP Muhammad Ssegirinya and his Makindye West counterpart, Allan Ssewanyana until the Constitutional court determines the petition challenging the legality of new charges preferred against them.
The two legislators are jointly charged together with Wilson Ssenyonga for among others; murder, attempted murder, terrorism, and abetting terrorism acts. In his petition received by the Masaka High court registrar last Friday, Mabirizi wants the court to halt the planned hearing of the accused's third bail application.
Last week on Tuesday, Masaka High court resident judge Lawrence Tweyanze fixed between February 13 and 15, 2023 to hear and determine the legislators' bail applications ahead of their prosecution. However, in his application, Mabirizi argues that he petitioned the Constitutional court and sued the director of public prosecutions (DPP) and the attorney general for slapping additional charges against the legislators - moments after they were released on bail for murder in September 2021.
When the police re-arrested the MPs in September 2021, the DPP instituted additional charges of murder and terrorism, saying that detectives had obtained evidence pinning them for the murder of Joseph Bwanika on August 2, 2021.
In his Constitutional court petition, Mabirizi argues that the additional charges brought on a different criminal file amount to political persecution, which he says is unjustifiable in a free and democratic society and the interpretation of the Constitutional court.
He also contends that the additional charges deprived the MPs of the Shs 20 million they each paid for bail, arguing that this shouldn't have been the case had the state presented an amended charge sheet without necessarily re-arresting the MPs. Mabirizi wants the trial against the legislators halted until his Constitutional court petition is determined.
“There is a threat of conducting the proceedings before the determination of the petition since the matter is now fixed for hearing between February 13th and 15th, 2023. The applicant together with the two MPs will suffer irreparable injuries if the application is not granted,” he indicates.
According to Mabirizi, his Constitutional court petition has come up for hearing twice but could not take off because three justices of the panel disqualified themselves. He says, he prefers that the hearing date of his petition be fixed before February 13 such that it's not overtaken by events.
“I also request for a production warrant addressed to the in-charge of Luzira upper prison to enable me to argue the application since I represent myself,” he adds in the application.
Masaka High court registrar Julius Borore is yet to pronounce himself on Mabarizi’s application. Notably, in his submissions when he appeared before Masaka High court on Tuesday last week, Masaka principal state attorney Richard Birivumbuka indicated that they are ready to proceed with the trial of the accused persons.
He, however, asked the court to allow the prosecution to first argue the terrorism matter in the International Crimes Division of the High court in Kampala before the suspects are tried in Masaka.