UGANDA: Court to view exhibits in al-Shabaab terrorism trial
KAMPALA- Over 30 exhibits including a jacket suspected to be used in explosives have been lined up by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that will be used at the trial of eight Al-Shabaab suspects, who are facing charges of terrorism.
Justice Michael Elubu, who presided over a pre-trial session of the men on Tuesday, directed that the DPP should display the remaining exhibits that include a motor vehicle and a laptop that were being used by the suspects in their mission.
Senior State Attorney, Lillian Omara, yesterday presented to court the DPP’s amended indictment in which it is alleged that the accused, all of whom are nationals of Somalia, were indicted for aiding or abetting terrorism and conspiracy to commit terrorism.
The court also heard that in 2014, information filtered into the Ugandan security that there were planned terrorist attacks by Al-Shabaab and that the explosives suicide jackets had already been dispatched from Somalia to Uganda by Al-Shabaab members.
After the attorney had read out the indictment, the judge told the suspects that they were not under obligation to plead to the charges, but they would do it at the start of the trial.
Seven of the accused men, save for one, are represented by senior city criminal lawyer MacDosman Kabega. Only one of them, Abdul Kadir Mohamed Mohamud Sandir, is represented by another city lawyer Sylvia Namawejje Ebitu.
Kabega submitted that the suspects were arrested by security agencies in 2014 and were detained at various police stations including Kireka.
Earlier on Monday, the court okayed an application in which the DPP sought liberty not to disclose the identities of the prosecution witnesses to the defence side until the right time for the trial came.
However, both defence counsel submitted that despite that, the prosecution should provide them all evidence without necessarily disclosing the names of those witnesses the DPP would like to protect for security purposes.
However, after the two sides had agreed to the facts of the indictment, Kabega sought clarification on what the prosecution meant by scenes of crime other than scenes where the suspects were arrested.
He also sought for the defence to look at specific exhibits including the jacket, the vehicle and the lap-top that the prosecution intended to use against their clients before the trial began.
Kabega submitted and Namawejje concurred to an application for bail pending the trial of the suspects. “Now that the prosecution has not asked for expeditious trial of the suspects, we have instructions to apply for bail for the suspects pending their trial, considering the period of four years they have spent in incarceration,” the lawyers submitted.
The judge ruled that since such an application should not be entertained by the pre-trial judge other than the chamber judge, he would forward it to the right judge.