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Uganda bombing trial stalls after top prosecutor assassinated

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Kagezi had been due to appear in court Tuesday at the trial of 13 men accused of participating in the July 2010 bombings in Kampala/FILE

Kagezi had been due to appear in court Tuesday at the trial of 13 men accused of participating in the July 2010 bombings in Kampala/FILE

KAMPALA, Uganda, Apr 1 – A key trial in Uganda of 13 men accused of taking part in Al-Shabaab bombings that killed 76 people in 2010 was postponed Tuesday after the top prosecutor was shot dead.

Police on Tuesday vowed to catch the killers of Joan Kagezi, acting assistant director of public prosecution, who was murdered by men on a motorbike as she drove home with three of her children on Monday evening.

The identity of the gunmen and their motive remains unclear, police said.

Minister of Information Jim Muhwezi said the “crime will not go unpunished”, while police chief Kale Kayihura said “her death is a big loss to the country.”

She was shot twice, in the neck and in the shoulder, after stopping her car to buy fruit on the side of the road in a suburb of the capital Kampala. Her three children were unhurt.

“The murder of Joan Kagezi should only serve to increase our resolve to hunt down and bring to justice all those elements bent on disturbing the security and development of our country,” Kayihura added.

Kagezi had been due to appear in court Tuesday at the trial of 13 men accused of participating in the July 2010 bombings in Kampala which were claimed by Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shabaab militants.

Police spokesman Fred Enanga said they were tracking suspects. He said the killing “could be… related” to the Shabaab but added that they “can’t determine that at this stage.”

– ‘A wonderful lady’ –

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Lawyers in court Tuesday were visibly emotional, saying they would meet later with judges to decide what will happen next with the trial, defence lawyer Yunusu Kasirivu said.

Kasirivu told reporters he was “very upset” at Kagezi’s death, saying she had been a close colleague for several years.

“She was a wonderful lady — very, very wonderful — hardworking, polite,” he said.
“When you clash in court she will smile back, when you want to shut her down…she will answer you politely.”

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