Court charges three Kenyans for World Cup blasts in Kampala
A Ugandan court charged three Kenyans with murder on Friday for the July 11 bomb attacks that killed 76 people who had gathered to watch the final World Cup match in the Ugandan capital, Kampala.
AFP - A Ugandan court on Friday charged three Kenyans with 76 counts of murder, the first such cases opened against suspects in the July 11 suicide attacks in Kampala which targeted football fans watching the World Cup final.
Hussein Hassan Agad, Mohamed Adan Abdow and Idris Magondu were charged before a Kampala magistrates court, but did not enter a plea.
They face 61 counts of murder for those killed while watching the World Cup at the Kyadondo Rugby Club in the east of the Ugandan capital and 15 counts for those killed at an Ethiopian restaurant.
Chief Magistrate Deo Sejjemba said the accused were not allowed to enter a plea because the court does not have jurisdiction over the crime of terrorism.
The three will reappear at the magistrates court on August 27, but will not be permitted to plead to the charges until Uganda's Directorate of Public Prosecutions decides the case is ready to move to the High Court.
The men were escorted under heavy security to the court where charges were read to them in a session that lasted less than 15 minutes. They were then remanded to prison.
The charge sheet identified Agad as "a preacher of Islam," while Magondu was identified as an employee of a trading company in Nairobi.
Asked by AFP on his way out of the court room if he was involved in the attacks, Magondu smiled and said "no".
These are the first individuals charged in relation to the two blasts that have been claimed by Somalia's Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab militants.
Police have previously said there is "very strong evidence" that the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers.
National police spokeswoman Judith Nabakooba told AFP earlier on Friday that several Pakistani citizens are still being held for questioning in connection with the blasts, but they have not been charged with any crimes.
At least one of the Pakistanis was identified in email obtained by police as the Kampala-based coordinator for the Shebab.
The Shebab insurgents in Somalia said the attacks were carried out to punish Uganda for sending troops to the African Union mission which is supporting the fragile transition government of the Horn of Africa country.
Instead of beating a withdrawal, African leaders who wrapped up a summit in Kampala this week approved a troop surge for the Somali force to counter the Islamists seeking to topple the embattled Somali government.
AU commission chief Jean Ping said they had received pledges for 4,000 troops to beef up the force which currently comprises some 6,000 Ugandan and Burundian soldiers.
However, some observers argue that more troops risk worsening the near-daily violence in Mogadishu and buttressing the Islamist rebels' cause.
Previous military interventions by the United States and the United Nations in the early 1990s failed to quell Somalia's conflict that has raged for nearly two decades.