Septic murder case: Court denies Onebe bail

Mr Francis Onebe, the suspect in court last year. PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Ruling. “There is no doubt that Onebe is suffering from grave illnesses, he is most likely to interfere with the state witnesses and the ongoing investigations given the fact that the scene of crime is his home and most of the witnesses are likely to be his relatives,” Justice Paul Gadenya of the High Court.

Court has declined to grant bail to senior accountant Francis Onebe, who is accused of murdering his wife, arguing that he will elude the prosecution .
Justice Paul Gadenya Wolimbwa of the High Court yesterday ruled that Mr Onebe failed to prove that he is not a flight risk, and that he will not interfere with prosecution witnesses once released on bail, pending the hearing of his case.

While delivering his ruling, Justice Gadenya stated that whereas Mr Onebe had proved exceptional circumstances to qualify for bail, and even though his sureties are substantial, his conduct prior to his arrest showed that he cannot be trusted and granted bail.

“Because of the pandemic, he was advised to go to Nairobi, [Kenya], but even if that was the case, I would have expected the applicant being a respected person, to have informed the authorities that he was going abroad for treatment,” Justice Gadenya ruled.
“The fact that the applicant chose to travel without the police authorities tells a lot of his integrity in as far as this case is concerned. I am also mindful of the fact that there is always high temptation of suspects with capital offences to abscond for fear of the consequences that may follow if they are convicted,” he added.

Mr Onebe,63, is accused of murdering his wife, Aiso Mary Immaculate Onebe, whose body was found in a septic tank at their matrimonial home in Muyonyo in Makindye Division, Kampala, last year.
His home security guard, Bonny Oriekot, 26, is also on remand.
Through his lawyers, Mr Onebe had asked to be released on bail on grounds that he is suffering from chronic prostatitis, high blood pressure, and thus needed further treatment from Nairobi and London.

He had also stated that he is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, adding that he has a permanent place of aboard and substantial sureties, a man with responsibilities and companies such as Pentagon Security, which employs more than 2,000 people who need his support and presence. However,  Justice Gadenya ruled that while considering bail for an accused person, courts need to balance the public interest.
He said in this particular case,  the circumstances under which Aiso’s body was found decomposing in a septic tank after nine months of a search will take away the confidence the public has in the justice system if Mr Onebe is granted bail.

The judge also contended that given the unusual circumstances in which a police detective, Obadia Hakiri, attached to Kabalagala Police Station in Kampala, mysteriously died in a purported road accident days after collecting evidence from Mr Onebe’s home, he is convinced the lives of other would-be witnesses are in danger.

Prosecution evidence
While objecting to his bail application, the state attorney, Mr Jonathan Muwaganya, presented Mr Norbert Ochom’s affidavit which stated that  intelligence information indicates that Mr Onebe owns a home in Kenya where he might flee once released on bail.

Mr Muwaganya added that there was no medical report attached to his bail application stating that hospitals in Uganda cannot ably handle prostate cancer. 
Prosecution contends that Mr Onebe, Oriekkot, and others still at large, in January last year at Muwanga zone in Muyenga, Makindye Division, Kampala District, murdered Aiso.
 

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