Thursday July 31 2014

You must acquit Nsenga- lawyer tells judge



The trial of Ms Jacqueline Uwera Nsenga on Wednesday took a lighter tone punctuated with bouts of laughter, comical submissions from her lead defence lawyer and the judge occasionally grilling and teasing him.

In the background, Uwera’s close family members displayed placards reading, “Free Jacky” much to the chagrin of one of the defence lawyers, Isaac Walukaga who later talked the family against what he called “sentimentalizing the case.”

It was the last day of submissions in which the defence gave a rejoinder to the prosecution’s submissions last week, which marks closure of hearing of the case.

The 36 year old mother of two was charged with the murder of her husband and businessman, Mr Juvenal Nsenga early last year when she allegedly ran over him with a vehicle at their Bugolobi based home.
Mr Nsubuga Mubiru on Wednesday told court as he started his one and half hour presentation, “The whole thing is about property. This trial is not about murder but property.

It is about money!” Seemingly taken aback, Justice Duncan Gaswaga frowned and asked, “Are you sure? It is about property and not murder? Is the case being brought by the state or the in-laws? Anyway we shall see, proceed.”

An all smiling Mubiru cut him short and calmly retorted, “This is not a normal case.” Shooting down the prosecution’s reliance on a dying declaration made by the deceased on his death bed, saying, “my wife has killed me” the seasoned lawyer wondered why the family did not report the matter to police and instead “kept telling whoever cared to listen that it was an accident and no one should blame Jacqueline.”

He reiterated the argument that the murder charges only arose after Ms Uwera allegedly declined to remove a caveat on her late husband’s estate and turned down offers by her in laws to do the same in exchange for them dropping murder charges.

Last week however, principal state attorney Susan Okalany laughed off this argument, clarifying that Ms Uwera is being prosecuted by the people of Uganda through the Directorate of Public Prosecutions and not her in laws.

Mubiru also hinged his rejoinder on the record making testimony of Mr Geoffrey Musana, the deputy Director Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Department.

He caused giggles in court when he said he only met Mr Musana when court visited the scene of crime, only to discover he was the lead investigator but the state was not interested in him, thus co-opting him as a defence witness.

“I have practiced for a long time but this is the first time I am seeing the lead investigator testifying against the state. The effect of this is that he is saying you are wrongly charging this woman with murder because he did not find evidence to sustain that offence,” he said, pointing at Ms Uwera who stood calmly in the dock.

When he ventured into questioning the technical report and evidence of Makerere University’s Prof Jackson Mwakali who led a team of expert engineers that investigated the gate and vehicle, Mubiru literally had a question and answer session with the judge who kept reminding him of the facts of the 54 page report.

In his submission, Prof Mwakali had told court that for the car to have hit the gate, bent the bolt and skidded for 17.5metres, Ms Uwera needed to have been driving at a speed of 41-61km per hour, and should have started 23 metres away from the gate.

Mr Mubiru questioned this, arguing, “This woman could not have parked the car 23 metres from the gate. In fact the car was parked two metres from the gate.” Justice Gaswaga interjected, “Is that evidence on record? I don’t remember seeing it (two metres from the gate) anywhere, is counsel assuming?” Mubiru dashed to another finding of the engineers questioning their conclusion that unintended acceleration has never been reported in Toyota Mark X vehicles.

“My lord you have a modern car and you know that it can accelerate on its own if one of the soft wares goes faulty. You know that better than me!” he said, sending the court into more laughter. He concluded saying, “there is no evidence beyond reasonable doubt that this was not an accident, you must acquit her!”

The case resumes next week on Monday with the judge summing up the evidence before him and the assessors giving their opinion.