High Court clears 13 persons of terrorist charges

THE High Court in Arusha has released all 13 accused persons, who were facing a criminal case involving various terrorist incidents that occurred in Arusha Region in different periods between January and July 2014.

The decision was given on Friday’s 16 June, 2023 by the Judge Emmanuel Ngigwana after the prosecution failed to prove the allegations against the accused persons beyond reasonable doubt, as required by law.

“The responsibility to prove the charges is that of the prosecution which has failed to discharge such burden beyond doubt. Therefore, this Court acquits all the accused persons in this case,” Judge Ngigwana declared.

Briefly, reading the judgment, Judge Ngigwana said that the evidence presented by the prosecution had many doubts and that in all the 14 witnesses of the Republic, not a single one said that he saw with his own eyes the accused throwing a bomb at the victims of the bomb explosions.

“Similarly, no witness saw the accused giving money to finance terrorist acts. For example, one of the accused persons was accused of giving money to finance terrorism, but the prosecution did not bring his cautioned statement in court to prove the charges,” he said.

Likewise, Judge Ngigwana said that no witness of the Republic said that he saw the accused persons in the planning sessions to commit terrorist acts.

He went on to explain that the Republic’s evidence was based on the confession of some of the accused persons, while in the Police Station, the confession of the co-accused and hearsay evidence.

The judge said that the confession evidence brought by the Republic is questionable because it does not meet the criteria required by law.

“If a person confesses to a crime, he must confess to all the elements of the crime and the confession must be self-explanatory, the confession must be free without coercion or persuasion and the person giving the explanation must be warned about the explanation he is giving,” Judge Ngigwana explained.

The Judge explained that the evidence of the confession of the co-accused was contested by the other accused, thus, such kind of evidence alone cannot be used to convict the accused.

“The evidence of the co-accused alone is not enough to convict another accused person,” he added.

In addition, the Judge also explained that the prosecution failed to bring the cautioned statement of all 13 accused persons as stated in the charge sheet and, instead brought the cautioned statement of only four accused persons.

Regarding the hearsay evidence brought by the prosecution, the Judge explained that such evidence has no value in court.

In the trial, the accused were facing various charges, including attempted murder, as an alternative count of participating in meetings to plan terrorist acts, committing terrorist acts, giving money to finance terrorist acts and failure to disclose information relating to terrorist acts.

All the accused persons denied the allegations against them. They were Yahaya Mpemba, Yusuph Huta, Abashari Omari, Kassim Ramadhani, Jafari Lema, Abdul Humud, Hassan Mfinanga, Anuwar Hayer, Yusuph Athuman, Abdul Hassan, Swalehe Hassan and Rajabu Abdallah.

The defence had 13 learned lawyers led by Upendo Msuya and Fridolin Bwemelo, while the Republic side had several State Attorneys, including Grace Madikenya.

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