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Sheikh Kamoga’s life imprisonment quashed



Sheikh Yunus Kamoga in court earlier

The Court of Appeal has quashed the conviction of Jamatil-Salafiya leader, Sheikh Yunus Kamoga and other six Muslim leaders for terrorism.

On Wednesday justices Alfonse Owiny Dollo, Cheborion Barishaki and Elizabeth Musoke ruled that the ingredients of terrorism had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt. Kamoga was jointly set free with Sheikh Siraje Kawooya, Sheikh Murta Budde Bukenya, Sheikh Fahad Karungi, Yusuf Kakande and Abdul Salaam Ssekayanja.

In 2018, three judges of the International Crimes Division including Ezekiel Muhanguzi, Jane Kiggundu and Percy Tuhaise found the cleric and the six guilty of terrorism and convicted him to life imprisonment because they committed terror crimes by printing flyers with the names of the people they wanted to kill, holding meetings from their homes where they would plan the killings from, sending on social media messages of pictures of graves and bullets, coffins of their religious rivals.  

However in their judgment, the Court of Appeal justices noted that the flyers that were distributed by Kakande did not convey any threat either to murder or attack the victims that were named in the charge sheet.

The judges have also explained that under the Terrorism Act, for one to be convicted of terrorism, the prosecution must prove that their acts were done indiscriminately without due regards to the safety of others or property during the execution.

They noted that whereas the lower court was satisfied that the appellants had indiscriminately uttered threats, they have not found any precise reason that the lower court judges based on to arrive at such a conclusion.

The justices added that after revaluation of the evidence, they have found that the appellant’s involvement in any acts of terrorism was not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Court also heard that none of the prosecution witnesses attended the meeting where the alleged threats took place. They ordered for the immediate release of Kamoga and his group from Luzira Upper prison where they have been for almost six years.

One of their lawyers Twaha Muyanja says that they will discuss with their clients for the next course of action. There were emotional scenes at the court as their lawyers and relatives broke into tears of joy after the judgement that was read by the court registrar Mary Babirye in the absence of the accused. The defense lawyers were led by MacDusman Kabega.

Counter-terrorism operatives had sealed off the premises causing tension at court. They were arrested in January 2015 following the murder of Sheikh Mustafa Bahiga on December 29, 2014.

Seven others whom they had been jointly charged with were acquitted of all offences. Those acquitted included Amir Kinene, his brother Hakeem Kinene, Abdul Rashid Sematimba, Hamza Kasirye, Twaha Sekitto, Rashid Jingo, Musa Isa Mubiru and Yiga George William.  

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