By New Vision,
A Ugandan national, Edris Nsubuga, the man who triggered off the deadly bomb blast at Kyaddondo Rugby Club in Kampala on July 11, 2010, yesterday pleaded guilty to terrorism charges.
Nsubuga and another suspect, Mohamoud Mugisha stunned court when they unexpectedly pleaded guilty to participating in the deadly July Kampala bombings. When he was paraded before the press in August last year, Nsubuga confessed to having triggered off the deadly explosion. On his part Mugisha said he identified a house that was used by the terrorists.
“Yesterday, when you asked me to take plea, I pleaded guilty but you recorded not guilty. The rush of fear went through me and I was a bit distracted. My Lord, I have now decided to change my plea of not guilty to guilty on the three counts of terrorism,” Nsubuga told Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo yesterday.
The court had reconvened for the second day to read more charges for the 14 suspects to take their plea.
Nsubuga, 31, who first put up his hand seeking for his lawyer, Alex Bashasha, told court that he had wanted to plead guilty the previous day, but he felt intimidated by the reactions from his co-accused.
Asked by the judge whether he had been coerced or influenced by anyone, Nsubuga, who was speaking fluent English, maintained that he had decided on his own to plead guilty.
The judge again assured him of the court’s protection. “Nobody should scare you, nobody should induce you. It is about your rights. You have the protection of this court,” said the judge. Moments earlier, another suspect Mugisha had also pleaded guilty to conspiring with al-Shabaab to commit acts of terrorism.
“I plead guilty but I ask for forgiveness from court,” a dejected Mugisha told the judge as his co-accused stared at him.
In the charges, it was alleged that Mugisha, 25, conspired with al-Shabaab leaders in different countries, including Somalia, Kenya and Uganda, to commit acts of terrorism.
The judge read out the offences to Mugisha, saying that between 2008 and 2010 at different places, he conspired with al-Shabaab leaders to commit acts of terrorism and detonated explosive devices into or against public places in Uganda and elsewhere in the world with intent to cause death or serious bodily injury.
The offence of conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism under the laws of Uganda attracts a sentence of up to seven years in jail.
A total of 76 people perished in the two incidents that occurred at Kyaddondo Rugby Club and the Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kampala. The third bomb that had been planted at the Makindye House on the same day was defused before it exploded.
It was alleged that Nsubuga and the co-accused, together with others still at large, at Kyadondo Rugby Club and at the Ethiopian Village in Kampala, “with intent to influence the Government of Uganda or intimidate the public and for political, religious, social or economic aim, without due regard to the safety of others, intentionally and unlawfully discharged explosives with intent to cause death and serious bodily injuries.”
Nsubuga and the co-accused and others still at large also allegedly, “intentionally and unlawfully delivered and discharged an explosive into the Ethiopian Village Restaurant with intent to cause death and serious bodily injuries or extensive destruction likely to or actually result into major economic loss.”
On the third count, Nsubuga while at Makindye House allegedly placed an explosive with intent to cause death and serious bodily injury, or extensive destruction likely to or actually result into major economic loss.
After they had pleaded guilty to the charges, the senior Principal State Attorney, Joan Kagezi, who was assisted by State Attorney Lino Anguzu, asked for an adjournment to enable them produce to court the complete account relating to their cases.
After the two had pleaded guilty, an unidentified woman broke down and cried in the courtroom. She appeared to be a relative of one of the them.
When the court adjourned, the duo was transported back to prison in a prisons’ pick-up truck with hand-cuffs and their legs shacked with chains.
Who is Nsubuga?
In August last year, the security agencies paraded Nsubuga as one of the Rugby Club bomb attack suspects. Nsubuga who operated a shop in downtown was a Bachelor of Commerce student at Makerere University
Nsubuga at the time said he was the person who, using a mobile phone triggered off the Lugogo blast. It was Nsubuga who allegedly helped the security operatives to recover a phone used to trigger the Lugogo blast.
He was a resident of Najjanankumbi in Masajja zone. Nsubuga, during the press conference, apologised for what had happened.
“I want to apologise to the families and friends of all those who perished on that tragic night,” Nsubuga said.
Who is Mugisha?
During the same press conference, Mohamoud Mugisha, whose parents migrated from Rwanda, said he joined al-Shabaab in 2008 in Nairobi.
His part, he said involved looking for a house in which the terrorist cell would work. His first choice, a house in Nakulabye, was rejected by his bosses in Kenya because there were soldiers living in the neighbourhood.
Mugisha was a resident of Kiwunya zone, Nakulabye in Lubaga. He was also described as a businessman.