Uganda misusing blast probe, says lawyer

September 27, 2010 12:00 am

, KAMPALA, Sep 27 – Authorities including the FBI are using deadly bomb attacks in Uganda\’s capital as a pretext to arrest and interrogate anyone potentially involved with Al Qaeda, a lawyer representing 13 of the accused said on Monday.

Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, who said he is representing the 13 Kenyans charged in connection with attacks, insisted Uganda has provided no evidence linking his clients to the July 11 bombings in Kampala, which killed at least 76 people.

"I have talked to my clients and they have all said there are two types of investigations. One by the Uganda police, who don\’t ask about Al Qaeda," Rwakafuuzi told AFP.

"But another type (is) by the FBI, who are not interested in July 11. They are only interested in Al Qaeda operations in this region."

Rwakafuuzi did not discuss details of his clients\’ suspected terrorist links and said he has not asked Omar Awadh Omar, one of the accused, if he is a senior Al Qaeda operative, as reported by some Kenyan and Ugandan media.

But, Rwakafuuzi argued, regarding his 13 clients, Uganda has not credibly connected them to the 76 murders they are charged with committing.

"And there is nothing in the charge sheet either," he added.

"This has to raise suspicion about the good faith of these arrests. It\’s possible that people are taking advantage of the bombings here, just using them to keep arresting and keep interrogating (potential terrorists)."

He restated complaints that due process was ignored when the Kenyans were shipped to Uganda for arrest.

"How can someone be moved from one country to another without even a single document? It amounts to kidnapping," he said.

"It seems like Kenya is saying to Uganda, \’Look, these are dangerous people, just charge them.\’"

Rwakafuuzi said he had made several requests to review all the state\’s evidence so that he can prepare a defence, but has so far been forced to rely on the scant information in the charge sheet.

At least 76 people were killed when suicide bombers attacked two venues packed with people watching the football World Cup final in Kampala.

The attacks, which were claimed by the Al Qaeda-inspired Somali insurgent group Shabab, were the deadliest since the 1998 bombings against the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam perpetrated by Al Qaeda.


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