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High court to make decision on DPP’s revision case in Katanga murder

Otai , Amanyire and Patricia Kankwanza are some of the suspects facing charges of being an accessory after Katanga murder .

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The High Court in Kampala has fixed January 24th to deliver its ruling on the case in which the Director of Public Prosecutions-DPP is challenging the decision by the Nakawa Chief Magistrates Court to allow plea taking of the suspects implicated in the murder of Businessman Henry Katanga.

The suspects who include Katanga’s two daughters Martha Katanga Nkwanzi and Patricia Kankwanzi are jointly charged with their mother Molly Katanga who is reportedly admitted for injuries she allegedly sustained during the incident. Molly faces charges of murder which are capital in nature while her daughters are facing charges of destroying evidence in their father’s death.

The three are further indicted alongside the family’s Shamba boy George Amanyire and a medical practitioner Charles Otai. Both are charged with being an accessory after the commission of murder when they allegedly assisted the widow and her two daughters to escape punishment yet they knew the trio were liable for an offence.

However, according to the DPP’s application which came up on Tuesday for a hearing before the High Court Judge Isaac Muwata,  four of the suspects who have so far been produced before Nakawa Court took a plea that she contends was procedurally incorrect, illegal, improper and irregular.

The DPP contends that the learned Chief Magistrate had no jurisdiction to take the plea of the accused persons where there is a count of a capital offense of murder which is only triable by the High Court.

Accordingly, the DPP wants the plea of the accused person wherein they denied the charges against them be set aside.

Although this application appears technical, legal, and procedural, Uganda Radio Network understands from highly placed sources in the office of the DPP that the real issue is that by allowing plea-taking, it meant that the Chief Magistrate would go ahead and hear a bail application of the accused persons of which the Prosecution believes it will not be in the interest of justice.

The DPP argues that the charges of Kankwanza, Otai, Nkwazi, and Amanyire are interconnected to the count of murder for which the prosecution will rely on the same facts, evidence, and witnesses.

The documents show that the DPP has not yet sieved the charges and it is in the interest of justice that all the counts in the charge sheet are tried in the same Court.   “It was improper, irregular, and incorrect for the learned Chief Magistrate to entertain the plea on a charge sheet that has a count strictly triable by the High Court by law”, reads the application.

The office of the DPP while relying on the affidavit of Chief State Attorney Ann Kiiza one of the Prosecutors handling the case file of Katanga murder says the actions of the Chief Magistrate were not only incorrect but also prejudicial to the Prosecution.

“That I know that in cases of multiple counts in the same charge sheet, the jurisdiction is determined by the highest offense”, reads Kiiza’s affidavit.

Justice Muwata has now asked the parties including the lawyers representing the accused persons and the Prosecution led by State Attorney Jonathan Muwaganya to file written submissions.

The suspects are represented by lawyers MacDusman Kabega, Ellison Karuhanga, and Bruce Musinguzi who said that they are not opposing the DPP’s application.

The lawyers have been asked to put in written submissions by January 19th, 2024 and the prosecution was added additional time to amend its application to include arguments on the plea-taking of Martha Nkwanzi who was charged much later after the DPP had already filed her application; so that the issues are resolved at once.

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