The Criminal Division of the High Court is set to handle at least 200 cases in multiple sessions that will last 45 days.
According to the court’s deputy registrar, Festo Nsenga, the sessions kicked off today and will also include one for plea bargaining that will happened at Kitalya prison.
“Justice Michael Elubu will be handling a Juvenile session of 20 cases while Justice Margaret Mutonyi will handle 40 cases. There is also another session of 40 cases to be handled by a visiting judge. We equally have a plea bargaining session where we expect to conclude at least 100 bargains,” Nsenga said.
A plea bargain is an agreement in a criminal case between the prosecutor and the accused where the latter agrees to plead guilty to a particular charge in return for some concession from the prosecutor.
Under this arrangement, an accused pleads guilty to the original criminal charge in return for a more lenient sentence.
According to the High Court deputy registrar, the sessions had been planned to be held earlier but were postponed due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
He noted that half of the cases to be handled are aggravated defilement and aggravated robbery whereas the rest of the cases include aggravated trafficking and rape.
Nsenga said next month, the Principal Judge, Dr. Flavian Zeija, will flag off a plea bargaining prison camp at Kitalya Prison where it is expected that at least 100 plea bargains will be concluded.
“So far 70 inmates have expressed willingness to bargain but we know that during the prison camp, the number will increase to more than 100,” he said.
The other sessions will be held in Nakasongola and Luwero courts and the cause-list for the indicates that aggravated defilement accounts for the bulk of cases at 43, whereas murder(15), rape(11), aggravated robbery(10) and kidnap with intent to murder follow in that order.
These are some of the efforts that the judiciary has taken to ensure the deal with case backlog .
Prisons last week said they are stuck with 6,912 inmates whose cases are not moving anywhere.
Frank Baine, the Uganda Prisons Service spokesperson said that 4440 suspected capital offenders who had completed their mandatory six month remand period have never been tried despite being committed for trial in the High Court.
He said that another 2472 inmates have never been committed to High Court for trial.