By Ronald Kabuye
KAMPALA. The head of the High Court Criminal Division Justice Wilson Kwesiga has been assigned to head the panel of three High Court judges handling the trial of the leader of the tabliques Sheik Yunus Kamoga and 13 others who are accused of terrorism and murdering rival Muslim clerics two years ago.
The directive was issued by Principal Judge, Yorokamu Bamwine, and will see Judge Kwesiga fill in for retired Judge Ezekiel Muhanguzi, who has been heading the panel. Judge Muhanguzi clocked the mandatory retirement age of 65 in February, and a three-month extension to complete his pending work expired on May Tuesday, meaning he cannot continue handling any court unless he gets a contract.
The Judiciary said its request for the reappointment of Justice Muhanguzi on contract is still pending before the Judicial Service Commission, leaving the principal judge with no option but to invoke Article 141 of the Constitution and Section 20 (1) of the Judicature Act to temporarily assign Justice Kwesiga on the ongoing matter.
“This is to assign you…to head the Panel of Judges that will manage the case come 26th May 2017 and thereafter if need be, as the issue of his reappointment gets the necessary attention of the appointing authority,” wrote Justice Bamwine in part in his May 15 letter.
It should be noted that the 14 chose silence as their defence in this case where they are accused of murdering sheik Mustapha Bahiga in Bwebajja, sheik Hassan Kirya in Bweyogerere and attempted murder of sheik Huruna Jjemba in his home at Matugga.
The other judges in the murder trial, now in its conclusion stage, are Lady Justices: Percy Tuhaise and Jane Kiggundu.