Ugandan Convicted In UK Terror Trial

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[Africa News Update]

Can a Court sentence a man to 10 years behind bars simply because he uttered the words “Insha’Allah” which means “God willing,” a term used by millions of Muslims daily all over the world?

A Ugandan was convicted in a trial on terrorism charges that ended at the Old Bailey Friday here in the U.K. He faces 10 years behind bars.

Hassan Mutegombwa, 21, who resides in the UK, was convicted on charges that he procured money to fund terrorist activities. Even one of the jurors on the case promptly declared, “Not fair, not fair.”

Mutegombwa’s defense team plans an appeal. The conviction was based on circumstantial evidence, they say.

Prosecutors played a tape-recording of a conversation Mutegombwa had with a government undercover agent named Doud, whom he asked for money on July 23, 2006 “to provide money and intended that it should be used, or had reasonable cause to suspect that it may be used, for the purpose of terrorism, contrary to Section 15 1 Terrorism Act 2000.”

He later bought a one way ticket to Nairobi, and in the course of their conversation told Doud that they would meet again, "Insha’Allah." There was no case at all against Mutegombwa, his defense attorneys contend.

The Ugandan was stopped from boarding a British Airways flight to Nairobi on July 25, 2006, when the airliners were alerted by the British authorities.

Mutegombwa contends he was travelling to Nairobi enroute to Uganda. He was to meet his father who was there on business and the two were to travel to Uganda together. He says his father was going to help his establish a business in Uganda. Mutegombwa had $410 when he was arrested.

 “You cannot sentence my son for 10 years on such flimsy evidence,” says Jamidah Mutegombwa, the mother. “These people did everything secretly, yet when they were arresting my son, the assembled several media organizations.” She has a second son, Yassin, 23, who also faces trial soon on similar terrorism charges allegations.

Baker Mutegombwa, the father denounced the verdict. He said he had come from Uganda to testify for his son but that a verdict was returned before he could address the Court.

"I was asked to come and give the evidence. I spent here a full week and when I went back in Uganda, they called again. I arrived on Monday but still nothing happened," he says.

"The next thing I just heard that, my son has been sentenced to 10 years. This is a maneuver to show the public that they are working, while my children become victims of the circumstance," he adds.

“This was a Kangaroo court. If they managed to travel to Kampala to question me then why wasn't I given chance to give my side," he asks, referring to the fact that UK investigators had travelled to Uganda to interview him about his son.

His elder son, Yassin, who was also U.K.-resident, faces three counts of terrorism.

Hassan was arrested along with his elder brother Yassin during a series of raids across London in September, 2006 by UK authorities. Since then the duo have been in the UK’s most protected facility, Belmarsh Prison.


Correction: An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated that Hssan had also been charged and convicted for attending a firearms training site.

Investigative journalist Miwambo reports for The Black Star News from the U.K.


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