Date: March 20, 2017 Complainant fails to appear at hearings.
NAIROBI, Kenya, March 20, 2017 (Morning Star News) – A judge in Uganda last week dropped charges aimed at stirring up Islamist opposition against an evangelist who provides refuge to converts from Islam, sources said.
A court in Tirinyi, Kibuku District on March 13 dropped the charges of kidnapping and “human sacrifice” against Hassan Muwanguzi after the complainant and his attorney twice failed to show up in court, Muwanguzi’s attorney told Morning Star News.
Muwanguzi and his attorney appeared at a court hearing on March 10 at which the judge asked whether the complainant or his lawyer were present. They were not.
“The case was adjourned to March 13, and still the complainant failed to appear in court again when the charges were read against Muwanguzi,” the attorney said.
Muwanguzi told Morning Star News his lawyer then requested the court dismiss the case since there was no public witness.
“The magistrate heard the request of my lawyer, and he said, “The case has been dismissed,’” Muwanguzi said. “Immediately we left the courtroom, and as we got out we saw more than 15 Muslims, some dressed in Islamic attire, enter the court gate. We knew that they had come for hearing of the case.”
His lawyer told Muwanguzi that those arriving were too late, and that he should file a defamation case against them so that he could be compensated, the evangelist said.
“I answered him that as a Christian I will forgive them, just as our master Jesus did,” he said. “He [the attorney] was not content at first, but later he accepted it.”
Muwanguzi, who has suffered life-threatening attacks from jihadist Muslims, said he was thankful for the prayers and support of a pastor in Kibuku District at a time when his fears threatened to overcome him.
“Though I am still fearful from not knowing what the Muslims are now planning, the fears are now reduced,” he said.
Hours after Muwanguzi was released on bail on March 3, an Islamic leader urged village Muslims to kill him, an area source said. Muslims in eastern Uganda’s Kachomo village, Budaka District gathered that day to discuss how to stop Muwanguzi, a lay leader with the Church of Uganda well known in the region for his wide-ranging evangelism, said a source who snuck into the gathering. He said a sheikh (Islamic teacher) had told those present that Muwanguzi should be killed.
In an effort to defame Muwanguzi and stir up Islamist sentiment against him, Nghangha Mubakali on Feb. 26 accused him of kidnapping and making a human sacrifice of his daughter, Muwanguzi told Morning Star News. He said Namusisi Budadu Biryeri, 21, had taken refuge with him after her father beat her for putting her faith in Christ in 2015.
Police on Feb. 27 found her alive, and she told them she had sought refuge with Muwanguzi after her father kicked her out of their home on Nov. 12, 2015, for becoming a Christian that day.
Muwanguzi, a married father of six, has long housed converts from Islam in danger from hard-line Muslims.
Muwanguzi said he was grateful also to a pastor who made several calls to government officials about his arrest.
“Also, I am very grateful for the many church members who prayed for me,” he said. “Though the case has been dropped, I still need prayers because persecution is still going on, and I still have fears since I am taking care of many converts from Islam. I need protection and support for these new converts. I know nothing will separate me from the love of Christ and in serving Him.”