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Rights Watchdog runs to East African Court in sought for Molly Katanga’s justice

Ms Molly Katanga wheeled in the courtroom early this year

Kampala, (UG):- Legal Brains Trust, a Kampala-based democracy and human rights watchdog has sought the intervention of the East African Court of Justice after the high court denied to release on bail Mrs Molly Katanga, the widow of slain Kampala businessman, Henry Katanga.

In their petition filed at the Court’s Kampala office, LBT contends that the actions of the High Court in Uganda are against the “national bail rights” to deny Molly, 55, bail despite all conditions showing she is frail, aed and ill at the same time.

“An interim order ex parte be issued, staying the respondent’s detention of Molly Katanga and temporarily releasing her on bail pending the determination of Reference No. 25 of 2024.” reads in part the court documents filed on May 30.

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“The East African Court of Justice is duty-bound to preserve Molly Katanga’s fundamental rights and prevent further violations by invoking its inherent powers to temporarily cease her unlawful detention and release her on bail pending the determination of Reference No 25 of 2024, or by directing the national court to release her on interim bail pending the determination of the said reference,” it adds.

According to Legal Brains Trust, the regional court is the only option left for Mrs Katanga to get released on bail after the high court of the land deniying her the same on two ocassions.

The rights watchdog adds that “No available remedy under Ugandan law; the absence of a right to appeal against the High Court’s bail denial decision leaves Molly Katanga, and other similar situated individuals, without a legal remedy, necessitating regional judicial intervention.”

Accordingly, it wants the court’s indulgence to provide a panel of judges to hear the urgent application for interim orders ex parte and give appropriate directions to prevent the matter from being rendered nugatory.”

The human rights watchdog is now seeking the regional court’s intervention to issue an interim order staying the enforcement of the High Court orders in which the widow was denied being released on bail.

Alternatively, it seeks for a one-sided ruling to be given directing the High Court in Uganda to grant interim bail to Ms Katanga on such conditions it considers reasonable pending her trial that is slated to commence on July 2.

Ms Isabella Nakiyonga who supported the appplication by Legal Brains Trust avers that with the imminent trial date which is a couple of weeks away, Mrs Katanga’s continued incarceration at Luzira prison poses a significant risk to her ability to get the best possible medical care of her choice and, prepare for a proper defense.

“The denial of bail based on national bail rules is inconsistent with international human rights standards, which partner states are obligated to uphold, violates Molly Katanga’s rights to liberty, presumption of innocence, fair trial and humane treatment, with a disproportionate knock-on effect on other rights,” Ms Nakiyonga contends.

The human rights watchdog also claims there is a shortage of funding by the Judiciary and that the June criminal sessions may not happen, a scenario, they say is tricky and is a reason enough to release Ms Katanga on bail pending her trial later.

On two occasions, Justice Isaac Muwata of the Criminal Division of the High Court has declined to release Ms Katanga on bail, citing the murder charge that she is facing as being “serious”.

The judge has also reasoned that since her case is ready for trial, the DPP should instead adduce the evidence against her and quickly determine her fate.

Her first unfruitful attempt to be admitted onto bail was on February 8 this year with the last effort being May 21.

In her application for bail, Ms Katanga fronted grave illness (nasal sinusitis, vertigo, breast masses, and hypertension) that cannot be managed in Luzira prison as one of her key grounds to be released on bail such that she can seek specialized services outside the prison.

This publication understands from court documents that the 55-year-old widow has had at least five surgeries following the deep head injuries she sustained reportedly during the domestic brawl with her late husband at their Mbuya residence.

Mrs Katanga is jointly charged with two of her daughters; Patricia Kakwanza and Martha Nkwanzi though they face a lighter charge of destroying evidence.

The other co-accused are Mr Charles Otai, a medic, and Mr George Amanyire, a house who both face a separate and also a lesser charge of being an accessory after the fact of murder.

All her four co-accused are out on bail.

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