KAMPALA, UGANDA: The director of public prosecutions (DPP), Jane Frances Abodo, has welcomed criticism of the prosecution case of the murder of former Buyende district police commander Muhammad Kirumira and his friend Resty Nalinya Mbabazi.
The duo was showered with a volley of bullets in Bulenga in Wakiso district on the evening of September 8, 2018, while coming from a party. A few days later, security arrested two suspects, Hamza Mwebe and Abubakar Kalungi, while another, Abdu Kateregga was killed by security operatives.
The prosecution argued that Kalungi hired Mwebe to trail Kirumira and inform him of his whereabouts. Kalungi called Kateregga, who arrived with Mwebe and killed Kirumira and Nalinya.
Mwebe was acquitted last year, while Kalungi who proceeded to defend himself in court, proved and convinced High court judge Margaret Mutonyi that he was in Ndejje Kibutika on the day of the murder and had nothing to do with the crime. He was henceforth also acquitted leaving the double murder unresolved nearly five years later.
Justice Mutonyi opined that the investigations had been mismanaged from the moment suspects were accused of being members of the rebel group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), something that they had no evidence of.
The judge also identified gaps in the charge and caution statement and uncorroborated information from the evidence of the eyewitness and the statement. She questioned why Kateregga had been killed instead of being arrested to help determine the motive of the murders and why the state eyewitness was not investigated, despite displaying surprising courage by watching the gruesome murder and staying at the scene for hours until President Yoweri Museveni visited the crime scene.
The judge also faulted the state for torturing Kalungi into making a false confession admitting his role in the murders. The prosecution had presented a charge and caution statement in which Kalungi was said to have confessed to participating in the murder.
However, Kalungi denied the confession, stating that he had been tortured severely while in the custody of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and forced to sign or thumbprint several documents.
Now, DPP Abodo mentioned that her office would assess the judgment and, if they find that the judge erred, would consider appealing the decision. She stated that when a case is brought to her office, they screen the file and prosecute only when there is merit.
However, she added that cases often take a different shape along the way, and they cannot determine how witnesses will behave in court. She noted that sometimes a witness grows cold feet and acts in a manner that affects the case.
The DPP further explained that her office will review the case to identify areas where they could have done better. Additionally, she mentioned that future investigations will be guided by the prosecution team.
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