A human rights activist has accused police and judicial officers at the High Court in Mbale District of mismanaging a case of attempted murder of a 16-year-old girl.
It is alleged that in July last year, Derrick Kuloba,25, allegedly waylaid the victim and chopped off her right hand for reportedly rejecting his marriage proposal.
The victim was a Senior Two student at Bushiyi Christian Comprehensive Secondary School in Bushiyi Sub-county and a resident of Nabooti Village in Nakatsi Sub-county, Bududa District.
The suspect was later released under unclear circumstances.
Ms Mariam Mwiza, the executive director of Overseas Workers Voice Uganda, a human rights organisation, accused police changing the charges.
“I condemn the actions of police. They twisted the case from attempted murder to defilement yet there was enough evidence to condemn the suspect to attempted murder,” she said.
Ms Mwiza said the victim’s mother went to Mbale regional police headquarters and filed a complaint which led to the summoning of the file from Bududa Central Police Station but the suspect was again released.
“A new case of attempted murder was opened and the suspect was rearrested and produced in Mbale High Court on December 17 last year, where he was once again released on a court bail under unclear circumstances,” she said.
“Since then, the judges have been without genuine reasons, postponing the case hearing until mid-February when the court told the family that their case had been referred to Manafwa Magistrate’s Court,” Ms Mwiza added.
She appealed to the office of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to help the girl get justice.
“I also appeal to Lt Col Edith Nakalema, the head of State House Anti-Corruption Unit, to investigate the corruption tendencies of the offices,” Ms Mwiza said.
She added that several reports, including that of Transparency International, have consistently ranked the police as the most corrupt institution in the country.
A January 29, 2021 letter addressed to the Resident State Attorney, Office of the DPP Mbale regional office, signed by Ms Juliet Khainza, the victim’s mother, states that the accused was granted bail without her notice.
“The accused person to our dismay, was granted bail on December 17 last year without our notice yet on December 10 last year when we appeared in court, court did not sit,” the letter reads in part.
Ms Khainza asked the suspect to foot the victim’s medical bills, pending judgment, saying her family had become financially handicapped.
However, Mr Solomon Muyita, the Judiciary principal communications officer, dismissed allegations of bribery.
“Did they have evidence that our officers received bribes? If they have, let them bring it and we take action,” Mr Muyita said.
He said DPP charged the suspect with attempted murder, contrary to the claims.
“At first, the suspect was charged with defilement but it was dropped and he was charged with attempted murder,” he said.
Mr Rogers Taitika, the Elgon region police spokesperson, urged the aggrieved family to be calm, saying the matter is still in court.
“The investigations were done and the file forwarded to Resident State Attorney for advice. The suspect was charged with attempted murder and defilement,” Mr Taitika said.