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Muslims seek presidential meeting over jailed men

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Relatives say 14 suspects being held on charges of murdering Islamic clerics are innocent

Relatives and campaigners for 14 men charged with murdering 12 Ugandan Muslim clerics have protested in the country’s capital, demanding an audience with President Yoweri Museveni.

The group peacefully marched in Kampala’s Kololo district on Sunday.

Spokesman Nyende Ayub said the group tried to meet the president on a number of occasions but so far in vain.

“So when the opportunity came we accepted to come so that we can express our dissatisfaction about the justice system in this country,” he told Anadolu Agency.

In January 2015, 14 Muslim men were charged and remanded in custody in relation to the killings of 12 Islamic clerics between 2013 and early 2015.

No official motive for the killings has been given.

However, the Muslim community believes there are close to 50 people who have been detained but never produced before a court.

Nyende said: “We do not believe they committed the crimes they are being accused of. We went to court, asking the government to provide evidence linking our people to such crimes, but they failed to produce this evidence.”

He is convinced most of the arrested Muslims are not guilty: “Whoever was involved in the crimes should serve the punishment due to them as per the law and whoever is innocent should go home.

“This is our request; we just want justice to prevail.”

Aidah Kawooya, wife to Siraj Kawooya – who is among those incarcerated – also said: “My husband has been in jail for over a year and they have never been defended, so I just pray that the president listens to us.”

Sounding hopeful that the president will act, Aidah says: “I know this is a trial he has to go through, but I am strong and believe my husband will one day be released.”

It’s not clear if the Museveni will comment, but a meeting has been set for Jan 29.

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