4 February 2013

Uganda: Nebanda Inquest Set to Start This Month

The planned inquest into the death of former Butaleja Woman MP Cerinah Nebanda is set to start this month, the Ministry of Internal Affairs has said.

The Minister of State for Internal Affairs, James Baba and the permanent secretary, Patrick Steven Kagoda, said on Thursday that facilities and logistics for the inquest to start were already in place.

According to Kagoda, the instrument of appointment of Judge Paul Mugamba to conduct the inquest was signed and had been sent to Parliament for gazetting.

An inquest is a judicial inquiry to determine the cause of death of a person who dies under unclear circumstances. The inquest is conducted by a judge, a government official or a jury in countries that have the jury system.

Inquests use witnesses, but suspects are not permitted to defend themselves unlike in the courts of law. At the end of the inquiry, the inquest would determine whether the death was due to natural causes, accidental, misadventure, suicide or murder. If the verdict is murder or culpable accident, criminal prosecution in the courts of law may follow where suspects would be allowed to defend themselves.

Nebanda died mysteriously in December, sparking off controversy that has resulted in the arrest of a number of individuals and MPs.

While the medical reports so far released indicate that Nebanda could have died of drug abuse, Nebanda's family, some MPs and politicians at the burial alleged that she could have been poisoned. To dispel the rumours, Museveni maintained that "one factor that is uncontestable is that Nebanda, knowingly or unknowingly, was in the wrong company of either drug suppliers or users."

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