The High Court in Kampala on Thursday morning acquitted three people accused of masterminding the murder of women in Nansana and Entebbe areas of Wakiso.
The three accused people included; Ivan Katongole, a businessman dealing in fish exports at Kasenyi landing site in Katabi town council, Andrew Kizito and Hellen Nabaggala all residents of Entebbe whom prosecution accused of masterminding the killing of Rose Nakimuli, a hairdresser in Entebbe.
Nakimuli’s decomposing body was found in a banana plantation after being raped, strangled and private parts inserted with sticks.
On Thursday, Justice Wilson Kwesiga acquitted the three people saying there was no evidence linking them to the murder.
In 2017, the Internal Affairs Minister, Gen.Jeje Odongo linked the Entebbe women murders to illuminati, a religious sect saying they were responsible for killing the women.
The minister added that police had arrested a number of suspects adding that their leader was businessman Ivan Katongole, who he said facilitated the murder of the women in the belief that it would enhance his businesses including his commercial building under construction at Kasenyi landing site.
“There is strong evidence linking suspects and Katongole. Some suspects were found with forms given to them by Katongole to enlist in Illuminati. Others have 999 (sign of Illuminati) tattooed on their bodies. Katongole is physically linked to the death of Nakimuli Rose because he was in her company the night she was killed,” the Internal Affairs Minister said, adding that there was technical evidence linking the businessman either directly or through contracting others to the murders.
Meanwhile, a total of over 40 suspects were arrested and 22 of these were arraigned in the magistrates court before only three were committed to the High Court for trial to kick off.
When the trial kicked off at the High Court in Kampala last year, prosecution brought seven witnesses who included the husband to the late Nakimuli and police officers among others but none of them testified to the effect that the three accused had participated in the murder.
Anatoli Ndyabagenyi, the husband to Namuli said he last saw the deceased on the night of July 22, 2017 as he left for his second wife but was the following morning called by a neighbour to inform him that she had been killed.
“I rushed home only to see a sweater that I knew very well belonged to his wife. It was hanging on a cassava plantation and I was able to identify her,”Ndyabagenyi told court.
The Police officers from Entebbe police station testified to court saying they arrested the three suspects, visited the crime scene and also impounded Katongole’s vehicles which they suspected of carrying the dead bodies but none of them(police officers) linked the suspects directly to the murder.
Prosecution also brought the post mortem report from Mulago hospital which indicated that Namuli had died due to excessive bleeding and strangulation.
Medical reports indicating that the three suspects were in a normal mental state were also presented as the only exhibits in the case.
In his judgment, Justice Wilson Kwesiga blasted police for doing a bad job by failing to investigate the case and in the end, there was no evidence linking the accused to the murder.
“There must be evidence that the accused participated in the alleged murder leading to death but the moment this essential element, there cannot be any case to answer by the accused,” Kwesiga said.
The judge explained that the postmortem report from the pathologist indicated that the Nakimuli died of manual strangulation which meant it was a homicide but there was no further evidence to link the accused to the murder.
“None of the witnesses connected the accused to the unlawful death of the deceased to show the element of participation.”
“AIP Joseph Ssekitooleko(arresting officer) didn’t say anything connecting the accused to the homicide,” the judge said.
Police killed case
The judge said police was responsible for ‘killing’ the case by poorly investigating it.
Referring to the evidence by police detectives, the judge said that police did not investigate anything on the case apart from arresting the accused and the story ended there adding that there was nothing useful from police’s evidence.
One detective who didn’t mention his name did not investigate anything helpful to this case.
“Prosecution witness 7, AIP James Mayiko arrested Katongole on instructions of the OC CID for Entebbe but did not do any investigations on the case.”
“Detective Corporal Amina Barungi, the investigating officer for this case told this case she found all the allegations against the accused negative,” the judge said.
Justice Kwesiga said that he had analysed the evidence as given by senior police officers in the case and didn’t find anything good, adding that the police officers who investigated the case did a bad job by killing it.
He said the moment there is no evidence linked the accused to the crime, it is only prudent that the accused are acquitted.
The Judge didn’t spare the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions which he said failed in its role to look into the case file before being forwarded to court for prosecution.
“These have been tedious, expensive and useless criminal proceedings that that should have been avoided by the state or by whoever brings cases to court.”
The judge said the evidence brought by the state through a total of 8 witnesses majority of whom were police officers could not even stand in a chicken thief case if one is suspected.
“It does not even qualify as evidence of reasonable suspicion,” he said referring to the prosecution as being miserable and brought in bad faith.
He later set free the three accused people in Entebbe women murders.
The judgment by Justice Kwesiga reflects on a number of cases where suspects are arrested by police without proper investigation and taken to court only ending up being dismissed or the accused acquitted having spent long spells on remand.
Many cases have died a natural death due to poor investigation by police .
Police is mandated to carry out investigations, write the file and later forward it to the Director of Public Prosecution with the necessary evidence pinning the suspect to the offence.
The office of the DPP is on the other side expected to look through the file and return it to police with advice on how to improve it before it is sanctioned and forwarded to courts of law for the trial to begin but according to Justice Wilson Kwesiga’s judgment, all this process never happened.
By the look of things, police was focused on seeing the three accused people jailed over their own selfish interests that no one knows and in order to fulfill this motive, they even influenced the DPP’s office to sanction the file for trial to begin, only for the judge to throw the case in the dustbin .
However, the accused suffered losses for the time they spent on remand whereas the state lost resources in prosecuting the case and also keeping the accused in government facilities at Kigo prison.