By Frank Kamuntu
Justice Eva Luswata, the presiding judge at the International Crimes Division of the High Court, on Wednesday committed Jamil Mukulu, the former commander of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and 37 others for trial on terrorism and other charges.
Mukulu is charged together with Abdallah Sharif Ali Salim alias Mukyotala, Musa Nabangi, Adam Diin Bashiri alias Wabula, Sheikh Ahamed Rashid Wasiga, Cpl. Alex Martin Engwau, Sgt. John Owori, Sheikh Ibrahim Badru Wanjala, Amis Adam, Abdul Malik Kabaale, Muzahamu Ndifuna and Ibrahim Kyessa.
Others are; Yakubu Kyessa, Muhammad Muruya, Abdallah Waniala, Abduswabul Kimbugwe, Muhammad Mbuya, Muhammad Kiryagana, Abdurahamani Muyaga, Muhammad Matovu, Omar Abdallah Mutuka, Amis Sowedi, Zaidi Kambo, Musa Kaala, Mansuudi Kisambira, Isa Kayira, Hassan Wasswa, Abdallah Kirwani, Daniel Wanyama, Abdul Ddungu, Robert Wandera, and Umayiya Kikomeko
Justice Luswata confirmed the charges against the accused after ascertaining that prosecution has sufficient evidence to sustain the 20 charges against them during the trial.
The charges include among others terrorism, murder, attempted murder, aggravated robbery and their involvement with ADF, a terrorist group.
According to the indictment before court, between 2011 and 2014, the accused persons under the command of Mukulu acquired fire arms and training in neighbouring countries and funding for economic, social, political and religious reasons.
Court documents indicate that the Directorate of Public Prosecutions will at the trial stage tender in court evidence in form of literature, statements made by the accused at various police stations, explosives, ammunition and guns among others to pin the suspects on the charges.
Court also heard that the accused persons raided Muslim communities most especially those that they disagreed with on particular matters, such as the driection where to face while conducting prayers.
Some of the Muslim leaders purportedly killed by the group include Sheikh Yunus Mandanga and Dakitoor Muwaya, a top Shia cleric in the country who was gunned down at his home in Mayuge district. In addition, the suspects also reportedly raided Bugiri police station where two police officers namely Karim Tenywa and Muzamir Babale were killed.
In the four-hour ruling read by the International Crimes Division registrar Stellah Atiku, justice Luswata noted that the accused persons instilled fear in the public because of political and religious reasons.
Although Mukulu’s lawyers including Evans Ochieng and Luyimbazi Nalukoola were in court, he stood up and requested the registrar for a typed and certified copy of the ruling, saying he is going to appeal against their committal and confirmation of the charges against him.
Mukulu noted that after his extradition from Tanzania in 2015, he spent 14 months at the infamous Nalufenya police detention facility where he was tortured. He named some police officers who reportedly tortured him.
He was advised to file a formal application through his lawyers. This implies that the accused persons had to return to Luzira prison on remand until a panel of three judges of the International Crimes Division is constituted to try them at a later date.
Mukulu and his accomplices were arrested from various places in Uganda and Tanzania between 2014 and 2015 on charges dating back to 1998 when suspected ADF rebels attacked Kichwamba Technical Institute and killed more than 80 students.