and Andante Okanya
FOURTEEN men facing terrorism charges on Tuesday reappeared before High court in Kampala.
Five of the 19 men on terrorism charges relating to the Kampala bomb attacks were on Monday released after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) withdrew charges against them.
A total of 76 people were killed in the bomb blast that went off almost at the same time as they were watching the World Cup final played in South Africa.
The deadly attacks, for which a Somali militant group, al-Shabaab, claimed responsibility, took place at Kyadondo Rugby Club and at the Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kampala.
The suspects freed yesterday included a Kenyan human rights activist, Al-Amin Kimathi alias Joe Kimathi.
The others were a Ugandan medical practitioner, Dr. Ismail Kalule and two Somali nationals, Mohammed Adam Abdow and Khalif Abdi Muhammad, as well as another Ugandan, Isma Kayigwa Walusimbi alias Dino.
However, the DPP maintained charges of terrorism, murder and conspiracy to murder and being accessory to the offences against the remaining 14 suspects. Twelve of them yesterday took plea and denied charges of terrorism and murder.
At the start of the trial yesterday, senior principal State Attorney Joan Kagezi informed the trial judge, Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, that she had instructions from the DPP, Richard Buteera, to discontinue the proceeding against the five suspects. She did not, however, give reasons for the act.
Following the â€œNolle Prosequeâ€ (the withdrawal of prosecution), the judge said: â€œYou are now as free as the birds in the air. You are free to go home, unless the state has any other lawful charges against you.â€
â€œHowever, you should note that I have not acquitted you, because I have not tried you. You are only let free by the state,â€ Owiny-Dollo said yesterday as he released the suspects.
The five, who have been in prison for over a year, hugged their relatives and friends outside the court.
Kimathi told journalists that he was happy to see that after thorough investigations by the security personnel, he was found innocent.
â€œI am happy to be travelling back to Nairobi tonight where I will speak more,â€ he remarked. Kimathi was arrested at Entebbe airport on his way to Kampala to hear the cases against the Kenyan suspects in the bombings. Rights groups had repeatedly called for his release.
â€œThis is a very happy moment for all who want justice to be done,â€ said Kimathiâ€™s brother Onesmus Imanene.
â€œJustice has been done, it is a travesty that an innocent man be incarcerated for one year when he did nothing wrong.â€
Mohammad Adam Abdow and Khalifa Abdi Mohammed, the two Somalis said they had nothing to tell journalists except praise Allah.
Dr. Kalule also expressed joy over his release and said he was happy that he was found innocent.
Kaluleâ€™s family had argued that his arrest was due to disagreements he had with some Muslim clerics in the country.
Security boosted ahead of trial
By Steven Candia
The Police yesterday threw a huge security ring around the Kampala High Court as the trial of 19 terror suspects got underway.
Both the inside and outside of the fence of the court was lined with heavily armed officers from the counter-terrorism squad and the regular Police who also manned all gates at the court.
All roads around the court save for Buganda Road, which was partially open, were blocked and motorists diverted to alternative roads, causing a snarl up.
The Constitutional Square roads, including Lumumba Avenue and George Street, were blocked to motorists, causing major traffic jams on all roads connecting to them. Only pedestrians could access the roads.
Deputy Kampala Police spokesperson Ibin Ssenkumbi said the move was precautionary.
â€œWe got some information linking the trial to terror threats and so had to take action to guard against that,â€ he said.
Groups of heavily armed Police officers could be seen patrolling the city both on foot and on trucks as others in groups were deployed at strategic points.
At the court, a tent was erected outside, complete with a huge television screen amplified with a public address system to enable the public to follow the proceedings, given the limited capacity of the courtroom.
Meanwhile, the Police yesterday warned that it would not allow political activities in the central business district of Kampala, save for consultative meetings organised by area MPs.
â€œOnce the area MP invites other politicians for other activities he will have to inform us to ensure that we secure the activity,â€ Kampala Police boss Andrew Kaweesi said in Kampala.
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Kampala bomb suspects back in court