By The Independent Team
Adam Kalungi, the prime suspect in the death of the late Butaleja woman MP, Cerinah Nebanda, has been convicted of manslaughter on grounds that he was negligent and never took Nebanda to hospital in time.
The Makindye Chief Magistrate’s court, however, acquitted Kalungi on the other counts, which included possession and supply of drugs.
The conviction brings to the end the controversial case that started on January 7 2013, three days after Kalungi was arrested from Neighbouring Kenya where he had escaped following the death of the legislator.
When the case started, Kalungi first pleaded guilty to the charge of manslaughter but the Chief Magistrate, Esther Nambayo adjourned court without entering the plea. The following day, Kalungi changed his plea to not guilty.
Prosecution accused him and five others—Noor Abubakar, Ali Omar Almuzahim Khan Babu, Abdul Abid Rashid Butt and Fatuma Babu of causing the legislator’s death by suppling her drugs. Court cleared the other four but convicted Omar with possession of drugs.
The prosecution team argued that it was from Kalungi’s apartment in Buziga, Kampala, that Nebanda consumed the drug that allegedly killed her.
They also argued that it was from his home that Kalungi and his accomplices took the deceased to the Nsambya General Clinic, where her death was pronounced. Kalungi denied the allegations.
Kalungi’s defence team, however, argued that it was Nebanda’s mother who knew the circumstances that led to former legislator’s death because she was the last person Nebanda met before her fate.
If Nebanda died after consuming drugs, they argued, she must have administered them herself and that therefore Kalungi or his co-accused could not be held liable.
They said that it was on record that on the fateful day, Kalungi had returned home at around 4:00pm, only to find Nebanda on the floor and already in a bad shape. It is then that he sought for medical attention in form of first aid to help save her life, one of Kalungi’s lawyers told court.
But the prosecution team insisted that they had proved all the ingredients amounting to manslaughter and possession or supply of narcotic drugs. After convicting him, court is expected to read his sentence in a week’s time.
Kalungi’s was the last of cases sparked off by the Nebanda’s controversial death.
The legislator’s death saw a government pathologist, Sylvester Onzivua and several legislators jailed and tried in court.
Nebanda, had made a mark as an outspoken critic of the government. Her death sparked chaos amongst MPs. Several believed the youthful MP who had appeared healthy at Parliament the previous morning, was poisoned.
Several others— Theodore Ssekikubo, Chris Baryomunsi, Mohammad Nsereko, Betty Nambooze, and Sam Lyomoki—attacked and pointed fingers at government and were rounded up by police.
Doubting reports Nebanda had died of alcohol and drug abuse, the legislators had also agreed with her family members and police to carry out an independent investigation into the cause of death.
But police turned around, arrested Onzivua and confiscated the samples he was taking to South Africa. This dashed the last hope for another post mortem inquiry that was expected to shed better light on what might have killed the legislator.
Police later charged Onzivua together with Baryomunsi over carrying out a separate investigation into Nebanda’s death. But court cleared them last year.
The Independent, in a story Nebanda’s death reports, predicted all the suspects in the case were likely to either walk away free or get convicted on cases other than her death. Indeed, while Kalungi was convicted, it was on grounds that he was negligent and never took Nebanda to hospital in time.