Principal Judge to meet judge in Kanyamunyu trial

Monday February 24 2020

Accused. Matthew Kanyamunyu (left) with

Accused. Matthew Kanyamunyu (left) with girlfriend Cynthia Munwangari during the trial at the High Court in Kampala on February 13. PHOTO BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI 

By ANTHONY WESAKA & JULIET KIGONGO

Principal Judge Flavian Zeija is expected to meet Justice Stephen Mubiru, the judge in the murder trial of businessman Matthew Kanyamunyu and his girlfriend, after the case was on Friday adjourned to the next criminal session.

“We are going to link up on Monday (today) with Justice Mubiru about this issue and thereafter, I can ably communicate the outcome,” Justice Zeija told Daily Monitor in a telephone interview on Saturday.

Mr Kanyamunyu and his girlfriend Cynthia Munwangari are charged with murder of children rights activist Kenneth Akena on November 12, 2016 on Kampala-Jinja Road opposite Uganda Manufacturers Association main gate in Lugogo.

On Friday, Justice Mubiru adjourned the case to the next criminal session despite pleas from the prosecution to complete the hearing.

The judge returned the murder file to the head of the High Court Criminal Division on account that his one-month trial session had elapsed and he had to return to his duty station in Gulu District, where he is the sole judge. He had also disqualified one out of the two assessors for late coming.

“...My biggest concern is that there are cases I had fixed which deserve to be attended to and I am the only judge there [at Gulu High Court],” Justice Mubiru said.

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He added: “The High Court business in that circuit has been stood over for close to two months. I don’t think that is fair to the litigants there. I have done my part of this based on my ability within the timeframe available for a session but I also have other business to attend to. It’s not the end of the trial.”

“The Division will decide on what to do next as the session has to come to an end. The administration of the cases is none of my business, I am only assigned cases when I come. I am adjourning and referring back the file to the division to decide the way forward,” Justice Mubiru ruled.

Last Thursday, when Justice Mubiru announced that the criminal session would end the following day, the State prosecutor, Mr Jonathan Muwaganya, pleaded with him to complete the hearing.

“We don’t see the ends of justice being met if this trial is not concluded in a single trial,” Mr Muwaganya said.

“My Lord, we have had a similar scenario where a case was adjourned to the next convenient criminal session and the court assessors-- whether by design or nature—vanished. That case has suffered a big injustice since a retrial has to be conducted,” he added.

By the time of adjournment, the prosecution was remaining with one witness to testify among the 14.

The judge ordered Kanyamunyu and his girlfriend to report to the registrar of the criminal division once every month until his trial resumes.

Earlier, the judge informed the 13th prosecution witness detective Stephen Walimbwa that he would be recalled for cross-examination.

Mr Walimbwa told court that on November 15, 2016 he delivered a letter to Internal Affairs Ministry seeking information whether Kanyamunyu had ever applied for and obtained a firearm.

He said the ministry wrote back the following day that their records did not show he had ever.

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