Ex-Guantanamo Inmate Finally Takes Plea

Written by on May 16, 2022

       Jamal Kiyemba the accused

The Buganda Road Chief Magistrate Dr. Douglas Singiza has finally allowed ex-Guantanamo Bay inmate Jamal Kiyemba alias Tony Kiyemba to plead to the charges belonging to the rebel Allied Democratic Forces-ADF, a designated terror group. He made the ruling on Monday morning following submissions by the defence lawyer, Geoffrey Turyamusiima indicating that the magistrate’s court had jurisdiction to try his client.

Last week, Dr. Singiza didn’t allow Kiyemba to plead to the charges, saying that his court lacked jurisdiction to try the offences against him. However, Turyamusiima insisted that the Court had jurisdiction to try their client prompting the Chief Magistrate to ask him to write to the Court quoting the specific laws.

In his submission, Turyamusiima noted that the punishment for the offence under, which Kiyemba is charged is imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or a fine not exceeding 500 currency points (Shillings 10 million), according to the Anti-Terrorism Act. “Section 161 and 162 of the Magistrates Court Act empowers this Honorable Court to try/hear/determine any offence other than that whose penalty is death. As such, this honourable court does have the jurisdiction to try the accused person”, wrote Turyamusiima.

He asked the Court to allow Kiyemba to plead to the charges and direct the state to share all the evidence they intend to rely on to prosecute his client once investigations are complete. This morning, Dr. Singiza concurred with Turyamusiima that indeed his court has the jurisdiction to try Kiyemba. He, however, hastened to add that he was exercising caution last time when he stopped Kiyemba from anything about the charges slapped against him.

He later took Kiyemba through the process of plea taking before reading him the charges. The Court heard that between 2021 and January 2022 in the Republic of Congo and Uganda, Kiyemba and others still at large belonged or professed to belong to ADF, a designated terrorist organization.

Initially, Kiyemba said the charges were true and hastened to add that he is a Muslim. However, the magistrate informed him that was not under trial because of being a Muslim. In his response, Kiyemba indicated that it was not easy for him to respond just by saying yes or no. His lawyer asked the Court to allow him to talk to his client in-camera, saying that there is a possibility that he had not understood.

As a result, Dr. Singiza asked journalists to step outside the Court to enable Turyamusiima to talk to his client. Turyamusiima also indicated that it wasn’t possible for him to talk to his client in the presence of the magistrate, state prosecutors and other court users.

He asked for a brief adjournment, which the court denied. The magistrate gave Kiyemba three options so as to record his plea. He advised him to either say no to charges, yes to the charges or to say that he doesn’t know anything.

Kiyemba said he knows something about the charges but denied ever committing the said offences. The State Prosecutor, Joan Keko informed the Court that their investigations are complete and asked the court to set a date for a hearing. Dr. Singiza adjourned the case to June 6th 2022 for the hearing to commence and further remanded Kiyemba who appeared in court via video conferencing from Luzira prison until then.

Speaking to Uganda Radio Network shortly after the adjournment, Turyamusiima, said that he will in the near future file an application for dismissal of the charges on grounds that the state violated the constitutional rights of his clients to a fair hearing since they kept him in illegal detention at the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence for four months.

Turyamusiima also noted that since the Magistrate has realized that he ought to have allowed his client to take a plea last week, it follows that his remand for the last four days was illegal.

About Kiyemba

Records indicate that Kiyemba and his family left Uganda for Britain in 1993 when he was 14-years-old. He was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 on his alleged links to AL Qaeda terrorists and incarcerated at the Guantanamo Bay in Cuba until 2006 when he was freed and compensated 1million Euros (Shillings 3.7billion) for human rights abuses while in detention.

He was later deported to Uganda by the British Government after cancelling his citizenship. Kiyemba was pursuing his Degree in Pharmacy by the time of his arrest. In April 2015, Uganda Police Force arrested Kiyemba on charges related to the murder of State Attorney Joan Namazzi Kagezi but was released under unclear circumstances.

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