The Criminal Division of the High Court in Kampala has set July 20, 2023, as the date when the trial of 10 suspects implicated in the gruesome murder of Susan Magara, gets underway.
The High Court trial judge Alex Ajiji announced the dates on Monday, June 19, as the suspects appeared in court for plea taking.
“The trial of this case will commence on July 20 this year and it will be heard expeditiously. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is accordingly directed to share its evidence with the defence lawyers to avoid delay,” Judge Ajiji directed.
The accused suspects include Magara’s cousin Patrick Kashaija alias Pato, Mahad Kasalita, the former imam of Usafi makeshift mosque in Kisenyi, Yusuf Lubega, Hussein Wasswa, Muzamiru Ssali, Abubaker Kyewolwa, Hassan Kato Miiro and Hajara Nakandi, the only female among the suspects.
Magara, 28, was kidnapped on February 7, 2018, on Kabaka Anjagala Road in Mengo as she drove back to her home in Lungujja. Her car was found abandoned at the gate with all her phones.
Her killers then contacted the family and demanded $1m (about sh3.65b) before they could release her.
After three weeks, Magara’s body was recovered at Kigo in Wakiso district.
During a requiem mass held at Our Lady of Africa Catholic Church in Mbuya, the family revealed that her killers had chopped off her ﬁngers and sent them to the family together with a recording of the incident.
At the time of her murder, Magar’s family had paid part of the ransom money, about sh700m, to the kidnappers.
Magara was an accountant at her father’s Bwendero dairy farm and court documents indicate that she was held hostage for over 20 days before she was murdered in cold blood.
The prosecution alleges that the accused and others still at large, on February 7, 2018, kidnapped Magara with the intent to procure a ransom for her liberation from the danger of being murdered.
The indictment tabled in court by DPP states that Magara was a victim of a ransom scheme hatched by one Yakub Byensi, a former combatant of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels who hails from Bunyoro like the victim and was known to her family, as well Yusuf Lubega who used to work at Container Village in Kampala with her mother.
Armed with insider information, the suspects, according to the prosecution, started trailing Magara until they kidnapped her in Lungujja.
They allegedly first took her to Hajara Nakandi’s home in Nateete, and later to Amir Bukenya’s home in Konge II Makindye, from where her two fingers were cut off and sent to the family.
The indictment indicates that the kidnappers turned to murder because they were fearful that releasing her would expose the kidnappers because their victim could positively identify Nakandi.