Justice Stephen Mubiru, the presiding judge in the murder case involving businessman Matthew Kanyamunyu and his girlfriend Cynthia Munwangari has indicated that he will not conclude the trial as his criminal session time ends today. He returns to his duty station in Gulu.
Justice Mubiru explained that he is the only judge at his duty station and that being away beyond the allocated time will disrupt the court activities including the trial of former Lord Resistance Army rebel Thomas Kwoyelo.
This development comes after the prosecution had presented 12 witnesses with two more before they could close their case.
Usually, a criminal session has 40 cases that are supposed to be heard in 40 days.
“I can’t conclude this matter because my session ends tomorrow (today). The truth is I am a circuit judge and a single judge. I will have to adjourn the matter to the next convenient criminal session,” justice Mubiru said last evening.
However, the revelation took the prosecution by surprise. Led by Mr Jonathan Muwanganya, the prosecution argued that if the judge leaves the case at its advanced stage to a new judge, it would be detrimental to them.
Mr Muwanganya added that it is a high profile case which should not be adjourned to another session.
“We don’t see the ends of justice being met if this trial is not concluded in a single trial,” he said.
“My Lord, we have had a similar scenario where a case was adjourned to the next convenient criminal and the court assessors; whether by design or nature, vanished and that case has suffered a big injustice since a re-trial has to be conducted,” he added.
He did not mention the case.
“Our honest view is that adjournment of this case to the next convenient criminal session will be the end of it,” Mr Muwanganya lamented.
Defence welcome move
Mr Caleb Alaka, one of the defence lawyers who took to the floor first, hit out at the prosecution for having branding the matter as a high profile case. He said all cases are the same.
Another defence lawyer, Mr MacDusman Kabega was also in agreement to have the trial adjourned to the next convenient session. But he was of the view that the same judge should be brought back to hear and conclude it.
When contacted, the Principal Judge, who is the administrative head of the High Court, Dr Flavian Zeija, promised to first interact with Justice Mubiru before he could comment.