The court assessors' absence caused a flop of the trial
In surprising circumstances all the three court assessors who are supposed to assist the court in the trial of the 13 Muslims of the Tabliq sect and a Christian failed to come to court on Wednesday.
The 14 suspects are being tried by the International Crimes Division of the High Court for the murder and attempted murder of prominent Muslim clerics.
The assessors' absence caused a flop of the trial when the court that is being presided over by three High Court judges was forced to adjourn the proceedings until the end of January.
The court had waited for the assessors to be present in court from 9:00am local time when the court was scheduled to start its business until 10:40am when it decided to adjourn the proceedings until January 31, 2017 as their surprising absence is being investigated.
"Unfortunately, for reasons unknown to this court, none of the three assessors is present in court and the court cannot proceed without first finding out why all of them are not here. Their absence is absolutely unknown to this court.
"It is now 10:40 am. It is also sad that the prosecution, contrary to what it had promised that it would produce three witnesses, has only one witness present in court. However, today's hearing of the case cannot proceed without the court assessors.
"This court cannot wait endlessly, but, meanwhile it is going to investigate their absence before the next session is convened. So, the proceedings of this case will be adjourned until January 31, 2017 at 10am. The accused are further remanded until then," Justice Ezekiel Muhanguzi, the head of the panel announced the ruling of the court.
The other members of the panel are judges Jane Kiggundu and Percy Mary Tuhaise.
The suspects, who are facing murder and attempted murder of their fellow Muslims in 2014, were sent back to prison on further remand until when they would re-appear before the court.
The accused were indicted for the murder of Sheikhs Mustafa Bahiga and Hassan Kirya. They are also charged of attempting to murder Sheikh Dr Haruna Jjemba, a lecturer at Makerere Universty, at his home located at Wattuba in Wakiso District on January 3, 2015.
The 14 suspects are also on trial for alleged terrorism.
It is alleged that between December 2014 and June 2015 in Kampala and Wakiso, the accused men attempted to or attacked Prince Kassim Nakibinge, Sheikh Mohamoud Kibaate, Hajji Najib Ssonko and Dr Haruna Jjemba.
They are also alleged to have conspired premeditatedly to murder Sheikh Mustafa Bahiga and Sheikh Kirya.
The accused are: Sheikh Siraje Kawooya, Sheikh Muhammad Kamoga, Sheikh Murta Mudde Bukenya, Sheikh Fahad Kalungi, Amir Kinene, Hakim Kinene Muswaswa, Yusuf Kakande, Sheikh Abdul Salam Ssekayanja, AbdulHamid Mubiru Ssematimba, Hamza Kasirye, Twaha Ssekitto, Rashid Jjingo, Musa Isa Mubiru and George William Yiga.
Prosecutors: Lino Anguzu, Thomas Jatiko, Rachael Bikhole and Marion Ben-Bella.
Defense laywers: MacDosma Kabega, Fred Muwema, Roberts Kagoro , Twaha Mayanja, Allen Kagoya and Sylvia Namawejje.