Uganda jails Muslim leader for life over terrorism conviction

Sheikh Mohammad Yunus Kamoga sitting middle with co accused.
Sheikh Mohammad Yunus Kamoga sitting middle with co accused.

Court in Uganda sentenced a Muslim group leader and 3 associates to life in prison after their conviction on terrorism charges related to threats to harm rivals, a judicial official said.

Over the last few years more than a dozen senior Muslim figures in Uganda have been killed, in most cases gunned down by unknown assailants riding on motorcycle taxis.

Sheikh Mohammad Yunus Kamoga, who heads Tabliqs, a radical Muslim faction, and 13 others were arrested and charged with terrorism and the murder of some other Islamic group leaders.

On Monday six of them were convicted on the terrorism charges but all were cleared of murder.

In a high court session on Tuesday, Kamoga and three others were sentenced to life while two associates were given 30 years each, according to judiciary spokesman Solomon Muyita.

The court acquitted the group of murder because prosecutors failed to place any of them at the scenes of crime, he said.

Local media quoted defence lawyers as saying they would appeal against the convictions.

About 13 percent of Uganda’s 35 million population is Muslim. The east African state’s Muslim community has various factions that often feud over issues ranging from differing interpretations of Islam to rows over property and leadership.

Uganda has only suffered one major Islamist militant attack – in 2010 when back-to-back bombings in the capital Kampala killed at least 76 people.

Al Shabaab, an al Qaeda-affiliated militant group based in Somalia, claimed responsibility. Uganda’s military is deployed in Somalia as part of an African Union-mandated AMISOM peacekeeping force.

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