TODAY IN 2015: Prosecutor Joan Kagezi shot dead

TODAY IN 2015: Prosecutor Joan Kagezi shot dead
Joan Kagezi

TODAY IN HISTORY | On the evening of May 30 nine years ago, Senior Principal State Attorney Joan Kagezi was shot dead in Kiwatule, a Kampala suburb.

Kagezi was returning home that fateful Monday evening with her children in the official car when she stopped at a grocery store.

She had not stepped out of the vehicle when a gunman had walked to the car door, blocked her from being able to open the door and shot her at least three times.

“The criminals riding on a motorcycle … stopped next to the parked vehicle and shot her twice in the neck and shoulder, through the widow on the driver’s side,” Then IGP Kale Kayihura said in a statement.

“Her three children who were with her escaped unhurt.”

Kagezi's shooting, at around 7pm Monday, was widely reported by local and international media because of the high profile terrorism cases she was prosecuting.

Kagezi had been due to appear in court on Tuesday at the trial of the men accused of participating in the July 2010 bombings in Kampala which were claimed by Somalia’s al-Shabaab terrorists, Al Jazeera reported.

Quoting then IGP Kale Kayihura, the global media said: “The criminals riding on a motorcycle … stopped next to the parked vehicle and shot her twice in the neck and shoulder, through the widow on the driver’s side. Her three children who were with her escaped unhurt.”

Daily Monitor had been among the first on the news that evening, carrying their news under the headline, "Senior Principal State Attorney Joan Kagezi shot dead".

While several international media, including BBC and CNN reported the incident the following day, the Guardian UK and Reuters were on it within hours of the shooting.

Senior Ugandan public prosecutor shot and killed in Kampala suburb, Reuters headline read.

"A senior Ugandan prosecutor was shot dead late on Monday evening, in what police said could be a targeted assassination connected to her prosecution of suspects in twin bombings in the capital Kampala claimed by the Somali Islamist rebel group al Shabaab," the news wire reported.

"Joan Kagezi has been a chief prosecutor in the trial of around a dozen people accused of organising two attacks that killed at least 79 people in crowds watching screenings of the football World Cup final in July 2010. Al Shabaab claimed the bombings as retaliation for Uganda's dispatch of troops to bolster the Somali government."

The Guardian ran with "Lead prosecutor in al-Shabaab bombing trial shot dead in Uganda" in their headline.

It reported: "Uganda’s lead prosecutor in the ongoing trial of 13 men accused of participating in 2010 al-Shabaab bombings that killed 76 people was shot dead Monday, police said.

"Joan Kagezi, acting assistant director of public prosecution, was murdered by men on a motorbike as she drove home in a suburb of the capital, Kampala police spokesman Patrick Onyango said. “They were trailing her on a motorcycle... They shot her dead.”

Case cracks itself

The scene at which Joan Kagezi was shot dead in Kiwatule | Courtesy

Kagezi headed the directorate of public prosecution's anti-terrorism and war crimes division and was second in command at the DPP at the time of her shooting.

It would take eight years and the case somehow cracked itself when one of the suspects let slip to his fellow inmates at Luzira Prison, revealing crucial detail of the murder that led to the arrest of four suspects last November.

John Kibuuka, John Masajjage, Dan Kisekka and Nasur Abdallah Mugonole  were in November charged and remanded to prison.

They had all been in various prisons for different charges as it appears that the ritual cleansing they underwent days after the murder of Kagezi did not change their fate.

The suspects were given Shs500,000 down payment to carry out the hit on Kagezi, Police said in the 2023 Annual Crime Report.

However, it remains unclear who exactly ordered the hit since the suspects were promised $200,000 (Shs770 million) each.

Kagezi, born on July 14, 1967, was assassinated in apparent retaliatory attack as she was heavily invested in prosecution of terror suspects.

He killing came at a time Uganda was grappling with an elusive bunch of killers who rode on motorcycles, bumped off their targets and made their escape.

Several Muslim clerics were assassinated in similar manner. Also shot dead include former MP Ibrahim Abiriga (June 8, 2018), former AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi (March 17, 2017) and outspoken police commander Muhammed Kirumira (September 8, 2018) that most shocked the nation.

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