Saturday, May 28, 2016 9:35 am
Five people convicted of terrorism over the 2010 bomb attacks in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, which killed 74 people, have been given life sentences.
Among them was Isa Ahmed Luyima, the mastermind of the attacks claimed by militant Islamist group al-Shabab.
Two others also found guilty of terrorism were given 50 years in jail.
Handing down the sentences, Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo said he did not believe that the death sentence would act as a deterrent.
Their guilty verdicts yesterday are thought to be the first convictions of al-Shabab suspects outside Somalia.
Five other men also standing trial were acquitted of terror and murder charges and another man was convicted of a lesser accessory charge.
When the eight men came into the courtroom, most of them were dressed in Islamic dress, and carrying copies of the Koran. Before the judge came in, most could be seen silently reading.
The prosecution had sought the highest possible sentence, the death penalty, for the seven found guilty of terrorism. Prosecutors said their crimes were pre-meditated and meticulously planned.
But the defence argued that most of the convicts were young and vulnerable when they were recruited and brain-washed by al-Shabab. Their lawyer also argued that most of them were still capable of reforming.
Justice Alfonse Owiny Dollo said that he felt that handing down the death penalty would play into the men’s hands.
They stood in the dock and showed hardly any reaction as he read out the sentences.
Lawyers for the five acquitted said their clients have been rearrested and taken outside of Kampala.
Police sources told the BBC’s Patience Atuhaire the men were being held for their own safety.
The blasts targeted football fans watching the 2010 World Cup final at a restaurant and a rugby club in Kampala.
Al-Shabab hit Uganda as the country’s army provides the largest number of troops to an African Union force fighting them in Somalia.
The case was brought to court after a major investigation across East Africa, led by the American FBI.