13 January 2013

Uganda: DPP Set to Struggle With Nebanda Case

THE prosecutor in the case in which Adam Kalungi is accused of causing the death of Cerinah Nebanda, the former Butaleja Woman MP, will have to be extremely good to secure a conviction, legal experts have observed.

New Vision talked to a chain of legal experts who said prosecution has to dig up evidence to persecute the case "beyond reasonable doubt."

This follows the change of plea by Kalungi who had earlier pleaded guilty to the charge of manslaughter.

Yusuf Nsibambi, of Nsibambi and Nsibambi Company Advocates, said before Kalungi changed the plea the prosecution had a lighter task to execute.

Nsibambi said the prosecution now has to place Kalungi at the scene of the crime and prove that he administered the drugs which killed the MP, into her body.

He noted that if the prosecutor had on the first day of Kalungi's appearance in Court provided him with a lawyer; it would have been hard for him to make a U-turn.

David Mayinja Tebusweke of Tebusweke Mayinja, Okello and Company Advocates said the case is now more complicated because the prosecution may also be required to produce details of how Kalungi was arrested in Kenya and extradited, to prove that it was in line with the legal framework of the country.

Tebusweke added that it is common for suspects to plead guilty and later change their pleas basing on the environment under which they are subjected before being aligned in Court.

"Many times when suspects are brought to Court, the Magistrates read their body language and reaction, to be able to tell whether a plea is real or not," he said.

Makindye Chief Magistrate Esta Nambayo on Monday refused to enter the plea of guilt which Kalungi made and adjourned court to the following day. On Tuesday Kalungi pleaded not guilty.

Another lawyer, Walter Bwire, of Bukenya, Chemonges and Company Advocates said the change of plea by Kalungi means the prosecu¬tion side has a difficult case.

"The prosecution now has to prove that Kalungi caused the death of Nebanda by showing that he bought the drugs allegedly found in the deceased's body. The prosecutor also has to take Kalungi to the scene," Bwire said.

Bwire said a suspect is allowed to change plea until after the sentence is passed.

He added that pleading guilty simplifies the work of the prosecutor although it's not enough evidence for the judge or Magistrate to convict a suspect.

"Even when a suspect pleads guilty to the case, the judge can still acquit him if the facts don't point to that. But if the prosecution is equipped with enough evidence and the suspect pleads guilty, it's very easy to secure a conviction," he said.

Kalungi fled the country after allegedly causing the death of Nebanda. Police reportedly found several narcotics in his house, which Nebanda is said to have consumed.

Bwire said the prosecution must also prove that the drugs Nebanda took were bought by Kalungi and not any other person. If he had been charged with murder, Bwire said, the prosecution should also have proven that Kalungi had the intention to kill Nebanda.

Police said Nebenda died of drugs which she allegedly took while at Kalungi's home in Buziga a Kampala Suburb.

The lawyers also said that by pleading not guilty, Kalungi increased his chances of securing bail and getting released from prison.

Tebusweke said Kalungis lawyers can now explore the chance of the good lawyers he hired to secure bail for him through the High Court.

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