Members of Parliament Mohamed Ssegirinya and Allan Ssewanyana did not appear before the International Crimes Division of the High Court as expected yesterday morning.
The two MPs who were granted bail last week after 17 months in prison, were expected to appear to answer to charges of terrorism, but they were a no-show. The legislators have not been seen in public since their release in what is said to be a negotiated deal between the government and opposition leaders.
They had been in detention on charges of murder, attempted murder, aiding and abetting terrorism, which all stem from a spate of machete attacks that claimed up to 26 lives in the greater Masaka region between March and June 2021.
Their release was based on arguments that the two legislators were ailing, and needed specialised medical care, which prison facilities were not able to provide. Their lawyer Samuel Mulindwa told the court that they are still admitted to hospitals where they went for medical attention and asked for a two weeks adjournment to allow the MP’s health to improve before they can be subjected to a trial.
Mulindwa presented the duo’s medical forms, as evidence of their ill health, which was also confirmed by their sureties Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda and Robert Walugembe. Mulindwa, also alerted the court that defence lawyers were proceeding with a petition to the Constitutional Court challenging the manner in which this matter is being handled.
The petition which is challenging the trial of the same matter in two courts from the same jurisdiction had been halted because the lawyers had limited access to their clients.
Presiding Judge Alice Komuhangi said that while the defence lawyers are at liberty to petition the Constitutional Court, the International Crimes Division of the High Court will also go ahead with the proceedings of this matter unless something else comes up. She adjourned the hearing to March 6 2023.