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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Uganda charges 32 over bombings

Uganda has charged 32 people in connection with the July 11 bomb attacks in Kampala which killed 76 people as they watched the World Cup final, the country's chief prosecutor said Wednesday.
Four Ugandan alleged masterminds were among the 32 who were charged with 76 counts of murder, 10 counts of attempted murder and committing acts of terrorism, the director of public prosecutions Richard Butera told AFP.

The four Ugandan men were paraded before the media last week and described how they had orchestrated the attacks at two separate sites on the evening of football's World Cup final.

Butera said all the defendants were charged with the same offences and will be tried together in one case.

"We have a very strong case. All of these people will go to trial but we may add others later. The investigations are still ongoing," he said.

Among the defendants are 14 Ugandans, 10 Kenyans, six Somalis, one Rwandan and one Pakistani, according to a list published Tuesday by the state-owned New Vision newspaper.

Pakistan's Honorary Consul Boney Katatumba told AFP the charged Pakistani national was not registered with the consulate.

"Every Pakistani is required to register with the Pakistani consulate. We have over 4,000 registered in this country. This man is not on my list."

Last Thursday, the head of Uganda's military intelligence James Mugira produced the four Ugandans for the media and instructed them to describe for journalists their specific roles in the bombings.

The suspected mastermind of the attacks, Issa Ahmed Luyima, told reporters he was motivated by "rage against Americans," blaming the US for supporting Somalia's embattled transitional government.

He explained that he left fighting in Somalia, crossed to Kenya and then instructed to head to Kampala to plan for the attacks. The 33-year-old also said he was responsible for sourcing bomb-making material.

Somalia's Al Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents claimed responsibility for the attacks, east Africa's worst since the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Luyima and another suspect confessed to being members of the Shebab, who said the Kampala blasts were to punish Uganda for deploying troops to the African Union mission in Somalia.

Mugira said Uganda has apprehended "all those responsible" for carrying out the attacks.

However, Uganda's police chief Kale Kayihura said the public confessions were "unprofessional," prompting a series of articles in the local media about a battle to take credit for the arrests among Uganda's various security organs.

All the 32 suspects were remanded to prison by Chief Magistrate Deo Ssejjemba, who also ordered the media to stop publishing information about the investigation.

Butera estimated that the trial, which will take place in the High Court, should begin within four months.

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