Four of the 13 men accused of masterminding the July 2010 Kampala bombings last week condemned terrorism and denied any role in the attacks.
In unsworn testimony in his defence in the High court, Edris Magondu told Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo’s court that at the time of the attacks, he was working at the United Nations offices in Tanzania.
In October, prosecution witness Steven Munyono testified that after the bombs went off, they tried to arrest Magondu but he was hiding. On Friday, Magondu rejected this.
“I wasn’t hiding; I was in the course of doing my job. They [security men] broke into my house, hooded me and took my property without a search warrant. They took me to a place that I didn’t know, leaving behind my wife and my eight-month-old baby,” Magondu said.
Magondu told a packed court that he told his captors that he had never been to Uganda and knew nothing about the explosions.
“They [Kenyan security operatives] told me that if I refuse to cooperate with them, they would take me to Uganda and I will see what [president] Museveni will do to me,” Magondu said.
“If I got chance to meet Museveni, I would find out whether he is a bad man as I was told,” he said.
Magondu converted from Christianity to Islam in 2002. He said besides working with the United Nations, he also used to preach using both the Bible and Qur’an on an Islamic radio station in Kenya.
He asked court to reject the testimony of a Kenyan detective Christopher Oguso, who told court in October that Magondu’s phone number +254720945298 was in constant communication with accused number one Hassan Hussein Agade.
Magondu denied using the said telephone number. He, however, admitted to communicating with Agade and suspect Muhammad Ali Muhammad using telephone number +254724376909 because they all had children in Kinderworld Junior School.
Refering to John chapter 18 in the Bible, Magondu said he is as innocent as Jesus who some people wanted condemned to death but couldn’t prove any wrong against him. Next in the dock, was Yahaya Suleiman Mbuthia, accused number three.
“My lord, I deny all charges,” Mbuthia said. “I am not a member of al-Shabaab; I was not involved in anything; I am not a sympathizer of terrorism. I was not in Kenya but in Sudan when those bomb attacks occurred. I had never come to Kampala.”
Mbuthia, 35, said he was in constant communication with suspects Seleman Hijjar Nyamandondo, Habib Suleiman Njoroge only because they are his brothers.
“Calling them never meant that I participated in terrorism,” he said.
He also asked the judge to reject the evidence of prosecution witness, Johnson Ngundu, who earlier testified that Mbuthia approached him with his brother Muhammad Ali Muhammad and asked him to rent a house.
“[Muhammad Ali] did not know my name till police told it to him. I have never communicated with him. I knew him when he was in Luzira [prison] and I have never gone anywhere to pick a check as alleged and my wife is Faridah, not Lydia as court was told,” Mbuthia said.
He told court that for more than 10 years, he had been working in Sudan to help people live a better life and could not abet terrorism.
“Islam is a religion of peace, and it should not be used by terrorists to tarnish it,” Mbuthia said.
On Friday, suspect Mohammed Hamid Suleiman also pleaded his innocence. He said he was only arrested because he fought for the rights of jailed Muslims, as a volunteer with the Nairobi-based Muslim Human Rights Forum.
“[Even] Dr Al-Amin Kimathi, the executive director [of Muslim Human Rights Forum] was arrested for over a year when he came here [Uganda] to follow up on our case; he was only released later [by] this court,” Hamid said.
Hamid asked the judge to reject the evidence of prosecution witness Paul Maingo, a detective from Kenya. Last month, Maingo claimed Hamid was directed by suspect Omar Awadh Omar to go and get money from Qaran forex bureau, which was used to fund the Kampala attacks.
“I know Omar [Awadh] very well but he has never directed me to go to that forex bureau to get money,” Hamid said. “My lord I don’t even know Qaran forex bureau.”
Hamid also denied any link to a one Omar Aziz Omar who prosecution claims was sending money from Britain to fund terrorism in the region. The trial continues today.