The High Court in Kampala will on Tuesday decide whether to grant bail to a man accused of killing at least three women and robbing many other female victims of their mobile phones and other items in 2005.
Baker Walusimbi, who was arrested on January 21, 2006 following a joint operation by the police and the Violent Crime Crack Unit, had in 2002 been accused of defilement.
The manhunt that resulted in Walusimbi’s arrest was mounted when in December 2005 two bodies of females who had first been raped and their throats slit in a similar manner were found in different areas of Kampala.
Charged with murder
Walusimbi was charged with four counts of robbery and three counts of murder of Moreen Nabbaale, who was an S.6 student of Makerere College School; and Jacqueline Najjombwe and Maria Katasi, both residents of Najjanankumbi on Entebbe Road
He admitted to his crimes when under police interrogation, but when he was later put on trial he recanted his admission to the crimes.
As he waited for his commital and trial, Walusimbi applied for bail, which was denied by then High Court Judge Margaret Oguli Oumo.
The judge argued that the accused was likely to jump bail since he had other pending charges.
In the fresh application for bail tabled yesterday, Walusimbi’s lawyer, Mr McDusman Kabega, told court presided over by Justice Yasiin Nyanzi that the suspect had been on remand for too long – over nine years.
Judgment in the case could not be entered because, the court was told, the two assessors went missing before giving their opinion on the case.
Mr Kabega asked that as the assessors are traced, his client should be granted bail.
Details of how the trial progressed were scanty by press time.
“My lord as the process of looking for any of the two assessors is on-going, I pray that this man (Walusimbi) is released on bail,” Mr Kabega said.
The state prosecutor, whose name our reporter was unable to immediately establish, did not object to the bail application.
She, however, informed court that the office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions was trying to synchronize the assessors’ contact details with the National ID data so as to trace their whereabouts.
This newspaper could not establish from the DPP’s office the names of the assessors. DPP’s officials promised to look them up tomorrow from their files.
An assessor, in law, is a lay person who is invited to follow proceedings during a trial of a capital offence and gives his/her opinion before the court gives its verdict.
On the assessor’s opinion
The court may agree or disagree with the assessor’s opinion.
Mr Yusuf Nsibambi, an experienced lawyer, told Daily Monitor that in Uganda the High Court cannot give its verdict in a trial of a capital offense unless at least one of the assessors gives their advice.
Ms Jane Okuo Kajuga, the spokesperson of the DPP, said in cases like this when assessors disappear before giving their opinion, “the only option is a retrial”. She said she would not immediately comment on the murder case for which Walusimbi is currently seeking bail because she needed “to review” it, but added that she knew Walusimbi because “he has quite a number of cases”.
Mr Kabega argued that bail can be granted at any stage of the trial by the High Court, meaning that his client, even though the case is at judgment stage, can still be granted bail.
Sheikh Hamis Walusimbi Majid, 67, a Muslim leader in Nakawa, Ms Maimuna Nantale, 51, a sister of Walusimbi, and Ms Sarah Kazibwe, 35, were presented as sureties.
Justice Nyanzi adjourned the matter to Tuesday, April 25, when he charged Walusimbi’s brothers to present their family home title as guarantee that Walusimbi will not jump bail.
How Walusimbi arrest was covered in 2006 (By Rodney Muhumuza)
Kampala. Police are holding a man who confessed to killing three women in different parts of Kampala last year. Baker Walusimbi of Wankoko Zone in Bugolobi, was arrested on January 21 following a joint operation by the police and the Violent Crack Unit that started earlier in the month.
He was found with two machetes, a toy pistol, women’s handbags, and several mobile phones.
Walusimbi, who was paraded before journalists at the VCCU headquarters in Kireka yesterday, confessed to killing Moreen Nabbale, a senior six student of Makerere College School, who was on vacation, as well as Jacqueline Najjombwe and Maria Katasi, both residents of Najjanankumbi on Entebbe Road.
He said he had killed two other women whose bodies have not been found yet.
The three women were murdered in December under mysterious circumstances. Police said they were all killed in same manner. They were naked, had been strangled, and their throats had been slit. The bodies of two of the women were found near Lutembe beach, while the third was found in Kawala. Although VCCU head David Magara said they suspected the women had been raped before being killed, Walusimbi said he had not raped any of the victims.
He said he had offered a lift to the trio with the sole intention of robbing them.
His motive, however, changed for the worse, when he learnt from one of the women, that his identity was after all not concealed.
“You want to steal from us when we know you?” one of them asked him in Luganda, which prompted him to drive to Lutembe.
The police said they had arrested Walusimbi after investigations that involved tracking the phones of the slain girls.
Walusimbi has had a history of crime. In 2002, he was convicted of defilement and remanded at Luzira where, according to his confession, he met and became friends with Richard Arinaitwe, another serial killer who is on death row at Luzira prison. His confession suggested that Arinaitwe inspired him into crime.
Police are examining the possibility that Walusimbi was not acting in isolation. About 190 phones have been confiscated in the investigation.
“He says that he normally studied women between the ages of 20 and 35,” said police deputy spokesman Patrick Onyango. “He says normally these women move with a lot of money on them, jewellery, expensive phones, and cash.”
Walusimbi also told police that such women reveal the pin numbers of their ATM cards very easily under threat.
“He said he would go to the bank when the women were locked inside his car and withdraw all the money he could get using their ATM cards,” Onyango said.
Walusimbi would reportedly rape the women and let them go if they did not recognise him.
The police deputy spokesman said one of the three women Walusimbi killed in December had recognised him, which forced him to kill them.
He is reported to have confessed to his victims that he was a serial killer. Walusimbi is also said to have shown the women machetes and the gun he uses to kill people.
The Monitor, January 28, 2006