The High Court in Kampala has withdrawn charges against the main suspect in the Suzan Magara murder case. Patrick Kasaija, also known as Pato, had been facing two counts of murder and kidnapping with the intent to demand a ransom, along with nine other individuals.
During the court hearing, the prosecution, led by Irene Nakimbugwe, revealed that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had issued a Nolle Prosequi (a formal notice of discontinuing a case) on October 13, 2023, for Kasaija.
Nakimbugwe informed the court, “The DPP wishes to withdraw charges of kidnap with intent to procure a ransom and murder in respect of the accused Kasaija.” She read from a letter signed by DPP Jane Frances Abodo, which stated that the government of Uganda intended to discontinue proceedings against Kasaija related to murder and kidnapping.
The court also learned that the state was not prepared to proceed with the case due to logistical issues. Despite an increase in the number of defense lawyers from three to five and assessors from three to four, the state needed more time.
Assistant registrar Didas Muhumuza, standing in for Judge Alex Ajiji, who was unable to attend, adjourned the case for a hearing on October 23. He also ordered the state to make disclosures on October 18.
Case Background: Suzan Magara, a 28-year-old cashier at Bwendero Dairy Farm, was kidnapped on February 7, 2018, as she was driving back to her home in Lungujja. Her car was discovered abandoned at a gate in Lungujja with the engine still running.
The kidnappers contacted Magara’s family and demanded a ransom of $1 million (approximately Shs 3.65 billion) for her release. After negotiations, her father agreed to a ransom of $200,000. Several attempts were made by the kidnappers to collect the money, but they were thwarted as it seemed the family had involved the police.
However, on February 19, 2018, the kidnappers called Magara’s father, instructing him to collect a package from Hass Petrol Station along Entebbe Road. The package contained a memory card with recordings showing the deceased’s hand with two fingers severed. The DPP alleges that the recordings depicted Magara pleading with her father to cooperate with the kidnappers and pay the ransom without involving security agencies.
Magara’s family had paid a portion of the ransom, around Shs 700 million, to the kidnappers. Three weeks later, her body was discovered in Kigo, Wakiso District.
The other nine suspects in the case include Yusuf Lubega, Hussein Wasswa, Ssali Muzamiru, Hajara Nakandi, Abubaker Kyewolwa, Mahad Kisalita, Hassan Kato Miiro, Ismail Bukenya, and Musa Abbas Buvumbo.