Uganda: The Case Was Adjourned for 6th Time Over Absence of State Prosecutor

Masaka — A case in which six people are accused of burning 11 students inside a dormitory at St Bernard SS, Mannya, Rakai District last November, has failed to take off for the sixth time .

On Friday, Masaka Grade One Magistrate Christopher Tindyebwa Adyeri adjourned the case to next month after prosecution failed to show up.

The suspects were later sent back to Masaka Central Prison until May 24.

During the previous court session in March, state prosecutor Ms Victoria Ann Nanteeza told court then that they had not yet gathered enough evidence to implicate the suspects.

It is alleged that the suspects -four of whom are students and two security guards, set ablaze the senior three dormitory on November 11, 2018, killing 11 students and left scores with injuries.

The suspects were charged with 51 counts among which include; 10 of murder, 37 attempted murder, two of arson, and one of malicious damage to property. However, two security guards were charged with negligence of duty.

However, absence of the prosecutor irked relatives of the suspects who instead asked the magistrate to dismiss the case other than making unending adjournments and excuses.

Ms Kevin Kemirembe, a sister to one of the suspects, said it has become too costly for the family as she spends over Shs100,000 on transport from Kabale to Masaka to attend a court session.

"I am spending lot of money on transportation as well as risking my job because sometimes I leave without permission from my employer. Our prayer is that court dismisses the case if prosecution has no evidence pinning the suspects," she said.

A parent of another suspect who spoke on condition of anonymity complained that he spends about Shs 150,000 on transport from Kisoro to Masaka excluding other expenses.

"The costs I incur to attend court are rendering me un able to pay school fees for other siblings. Let prosecution speed up investigations and pronounce its position on the matter other than wasting our time," he said.

The fire incident at St. Bernard SS Mannya was the third to be recorded in Masaka Sub region last year.

On June 2, fire gutted a dormitory at Bishop Ddungu Primary School in Lwengo District and pupils' property worth millions were burnt to ashes.

In March, fire also gutted a dormitory at Greenhill Primary School in Kifuuta Village, Kitanda Sub-County in Bukomansimbi District, destroying pupils' property also worth millions of shillings.

The most devastating school fire in the last decade however, occurred at Budo Junior School on April 14, 2008 which left 18 pupils and two adults dead.

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