By Halima Athumani
KAMPALA, Uganda (AA) - Ugandan High Court convicted seven people on terrorism and murder charges for their role in the July 2010 bombings in the capital Kampala that left 76 people dead and scores of others injured.
The court found Isa Luyima, Hussein Hassan Agad alias Hussein Agade, Idris Magondu, Suleiman Njoroge, Hassan Haruna Luyima, Muhammed Ali Muhammed, and Suleiman Hajir Nyamandondo “guilty of the charge of terrorism and murder, and the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that they were involved in the plan to attack Uganda.”
Luyima, a Ugandan citizen, was named as the mastermind and coordinator of the attack, which was claimed by the al-Shabaab militant group.
According to investigators, the main reason for the attack was to force Uganda into withdrawing its troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia, which was then fighting against Somali militants.
The court acquitted six other suspects for lack of evidence in the case.
The seven convicts are expected to be sentenced Friday.
On July 11, 2010, suicide blasts went off at the Kyadondo Rugby Club and Ethiopian village restaurant where revelers were watching the World Cup. A total of 76 people were injured and scores others were injured scores in the incident.
The case, which lasted five years, heard that a Somali national detonated the bomb at the club, while a Kenyan national detonated another explosive at the restaurant.
During investigations that spread to Kenya and Tanzania, 20 people were arrested and charged. However, some suspects were released due to lack of evidence.
This left 13 suspects charged with 76 counts of murder, 10 counts of attempted murder, and two counts of being an accessory to terrorism. Seven out of these 13 were convicted Thursday.
Two suspects, Muhamood Mugisha and Edris Nsubuga, had earlier “voluntarily” pleaded guilty to participating in the bombings.
Mugisha had told the court that he was recruited by the Somali-based militant group, Al-Shabaab, to take vengeance on Uganda for sending its troops to Somalia.
Mugisha and Nsubuga were now serving 25-year-long sentences.
In 2011, through their lawyers, the suspects from Kenya and Tanzania stalled their trial for two years when they petitioned at the Constitutional Court, challenging their extraditions to Uganda. They also claimed torture by intelligence officers from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, the U.K., and the U.S. The case was later dismissed in October 2014.
Some of the alleged torture methods included being forced to confess at gunpoint, tongue piercing, genital abuse, and forced pork product consumption, violating the Muslim prohibition.
When the case resumed in 2015, it again stalled for over two months after the murder of the case lead prosecutor, Joan Kagezi, who was gunned down by unknown assailants.
During the trial, the state presented a total of 82 witnesses, including security operatives, survivors of the attacks, FBI agents, Tanzanian and Kenyan detectives.