Katanga murder case: DPP accused of withholding crucial evidence from defence team 

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Katanga murder case: DPP accused of withholding crucial evidence from defence team 
Ms Katanga when she was arraigned in court in January | Courtesy-URN

The High Court first ordered the DPP to furnish the defence team with pre-trial evidence and information on March 3

The defense team in the high-profile murder case of Ms Molly Katanga has accused the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) of deliberately withholding vital pre-trial evidence.

This explosive allegation comes from Ms Martha Nkwanzi, speaking on behalf of her mother Molly Katanga, sister Patricia Kakwanzi, and co-accused persons Charles Otai and George Amanyire.

Represented by the legal heavyweights Kampala Associated Advocates and Tumusiime, Kabega & Co. Advocates, the defense has repeatedly hit a brick wall in their quest for complete pre-trial evidence in Criminal Case No. 043 of 2023.

"The documents sought for complete disclosure in Criminal Case No. 043 of 2024 are not privileged and the applicants, as accused persons whose charges are based on those documents, are entitled to the same," an affidavit filed before the High Court in Kampala on June 21 dramatically reads.

The family of Henry Katanga, who was found dead in his marital bedroom last November, has already faced sensational setbacks, including his wife Molly twice being denied bail despite serious health issues that Luzira remand facility cannot accommodate.

Judge Isaac Muwata had hinted at a swift trial, using this promise as justification to deny bail, but the accused family members now fear the prosecution's lack of complete disclosure will lead to "unnecessary delay and cause prolonged unnecessary adjournments," raising questions about the DPP’s motives and transparency.

On March 12, the High Court ordered the prosecution to furnish the defense with full disclosure by May 3, 2024.

Instead, the defense says they received a meager, partial disclosure on May 12.

Among the withheld evidence is the statement of the late Katanga’s sister, Naume Nyangweso, who had detailed items in a safe she managed and the photographs taken by CID officers.

Additionally, the defense is demanding the elusive postmortem report, which includes critical samples from the deceased's liver, stomach contents, blood, and fingernails to check for alcohol or drugs.

"The results of these examinations were not disclosed," the defense team said.

Other demands include raw video footage of the crime scene reconstruction, crime scene entry logs, and detailed DNA test procedures.

After requesting additional disclosure on May 29, the defense received a partial, unsatisfactory response on June 11, with DPP citing the prosecution’s unwillingness to "break the chain of evidence" and their claim of not possessing all requested information.

Ms Nkwanzi says access to pre-trial evidence is a fundamental right, and the prosecution's obstructionism is a blatant violation of due process.

"By requesting complete disclosure, we are advocating for transparency in the judicial process and reinforcing the importance of due process in criminal proceedings," she said passionately.

"If the application is granted, the defense will receive access to all evidence held by the prosecution, allowing them to adequately prepare for trial and ensuring that the proceedings are fair and just," the defense team declared, emphasising that this case could set a monumental legal precedent in Uganda.

The murky circumstances surrounding the Katanga case now seem to have even more intrigue and alleged prosecutorial misconduct.

Implicit in Ms Nkwanzi’s fervent application is the explosive charge that evidence is being intentionally hidden by the DPP to unjustly convict her family and the co-accused.

As the trial date approaches, the defense's call for full disclosure and a fair trial adds a dramatic twist to this already sensational case, highlighting the urgent need for transparency and justice in Uganda's legal system.

All eyes are now firmly fixed on the DPP and the unfolding legal battle that could reshape judicial practices in the country.

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