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Prosecutor Leading Investigation Into Al Shabaab Terror Attack, Joan Kagezi, Assassinated In Uganda

Screen captured from YouTube video.
Screen captured from YouTube video.
By Prudence Nyamishana
Ugandans were left in shock the evening of March 30, 2015, when Senior Principal State Attorney Joan Kagezi was shot dead in Kiwatule, a Kampala city suburb, while driving home from work with her children in the car. Kagezi was leading the prosecution against the perpetrators of the al-Shabab twin bombings, which took place in July 2010 during the World Cup finals, killing 74 people and injuring another 70. Kagezi was supposed to lead a witness in a testimony about how the explosives were assembled and brought to Kampala.

The news first broke on social media, where discussions about the shooting are using the hashtag #KiwatuleShooting. Raymond Qatahar, an investigative journalist, confirmed the identity of the deceased after he broke the news on Twitter:
New details coming in are that the woman shot was a prosecutor in the terror suspects case that's due to resume tommorow at the high court.
— Qatahar Raymond (@qataharraymond) March 30, 2015

BREAKING: Eye witness says there was a shooting in Najjera Kiwatule. A woman in a car was shot at point-blank range
— Qatahar Raymond (@qataharraymond) March 30, 2015

Eye Witness account: “Two men riding on a boda-boda pulled up to her car and one shot her over four times at point blank range”
— Qatahar Raymond (@qataharraymond) March 30, 2015
Concerned citizens immediately started to demand answers from the authorities:
Why a high profile profile State Attorney was travelling with no security at all is also disturbing.#KiwatuleShooting
— BUTTERFLY (@BeingEdna) March 31, 2015

The big question -> “@WALI_MART: Do we even have like a witness protection programme in Uganda? #KiwatuleShooting
— Jo Heath (@joabyxnx) March 31, 2015
Qwenga, a Ugandan blogger, pointed out what he sees as a flaw in the country's national security infrastructure:
The problem is; Uganda's Security Personnel think that Terror Alerts are all about bomb blasts. #KiwatuleShooting
— Qwenga (@bkyeyune) March 31, 2015
Angelo Izama, Ugandan writer and blogger, wrote:
My analysis was that if public confidence is withdrawn from the institutions referee-ing conflict, justice wld go into the black market
— Angelo Izama (@Opiaiya) March 30, 2015

Where the rules of protection are different depending on one’s status in society- impunity will rise #Kiwatuleshooting
— Angelo Izama (@Opiaiya) March 30, 2015
Benjamin Rukwengye, another Twitter user, worried that too much was being made of a high-profile individual, while larger numbers of fatalities go unnoticed by the public:
Poorer pple die in tens, like that. We use them as stats&don't ask the hard questions. Reflections maybe? 2/2 @ssojo81 @Kalinaki @Natabaalo
— Benjamin Rukwengye (@BibiRukwengye) March 31, 2015
On Facebook, Nicholas Opio, a Ugandan lawyer who worked with Kagezi grieved:
I worked with her in the Kwoyelo trials. I have traveled the world with her for meetings. Rest in Peace Joan. This act of cowardice and criminality has no place in our society. These cowards must be sought after, arrested and should be held to account and must face the full extent of the law.
Richard Anguria Omongole worried that police investigations might not produce any results:
Terrible terrible what act of cowardice. My worry,like many cases before,the police will find nothing and begin looking at family wrangles. That's what makes all of us unsafe. RIP Joan
Kampala's estranged mayor, Erias Lukwago, expressed his sadness:
Am extremely saddened by the news of the gruesome murder of my colleague in the legal profession, JOAN KAGEZI, a Senior Principal State Attorney. My heart goes out to the traumatised children, who were at the scene of this heinous crime in Kiwatule. May her soul rest in eternal peace
Meanwhile, Ugandan Police Chief General Kale Kayihura issued a statement on Facebook:
This evening, Monday 30th March 2015, Ms. Joan Kagezi, Ag. Assistant Director of Public Prosecution, was shot dead at 7:15 pm, near her residence in Kiwatule a city suburb as she drove home with her children.

She had stopped at a fruit stall by the road side where she normally stopped to purchase fruits, when the criminals riding on a motorcycle of boxer type, red in color, stopped next to the parked vehicle and shot her twice in the neck and shoulder, through the widow on the driver’s side. She was driving the vehicle herself.

The Director of CIID, Assistant Inspector General of Police Grace Akullo who by coincidence was driving some distance behind her, was the first police officer on the scene.

She coordinated the evacuation of the deceased to Mulago hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival. Her three children who were with her escaped unhurt.

Ms. Joan Kagezi was in charge of the International Crime Division handling international crimes such as terrorism, war crimes, and trafficking in persons.

At the time of her tragic death she was the lead prosecutor in the case of the 2010 terror suspects now before the High Court.

She was, also working with the Police in the prosecution of the suspects in the recent spate of murders, robberies and terrorism in Busoga region and Kampala. Her death is a big loss to the country.

Reprinted with permission from Global Voices.

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