Tough conditions as court grants bail to American couple accused of torture, child trafficking

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The High Court in Kampala has granted bail to an American couple accused of torturing and trafficking of a 10-year-old child who was under their care.

This was the couple’s second attempt for bail after Buganda Road Magistrates court earlier denied them temporary release.

On Wednesday, Justice Isaac Muwata ruled that Nicholas Spencer and Mackenzie Leing Mathias Spencer deserve temporary release from prison as they wait for their trial which is scheduled to begin before the International Crimes Division in Kololo.

“ I note there were exceptional circumstances established in this case. I have therefore decided to grant bail to the applicants,” Justice Muwata said in his ruling.

In the application for bail, Mackenzie, 32 a consultant with New Frontiers Technology Consult Limited told court that at the age of 16 she was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome an inherited disorder that affects connective tissues in the body especially joints, skin and blood vessel walls.

“… owing to this disease, I do not and cannot have biological children of my own. The nature of the disease is such that having biological children is overly risky to the mother owing to the high possibility of rupture of blood vessels and organs such as the uterus and intestines,” she said in her affidavit.

Mackenzie said she has undergone nine surgeries and the last being in 2021  and that she lives in constant pain and therefore cannot be adequately managed in custody  because she needs medication to manage pain she occasionally goes through.

In his ruling, Justice Muwata said he had considered Mackenzie’s health condition plus a communication from prison authorities that had admitted that they cannot manage to treat the condition.

He said it is only prudent that the couple is released on bail.

Tough conditions

The judge however issued tough conditions to be fulfilled by the couple before and after the release on bail.

Justice Muwata directed that each of the two lovers deposits a shs50 million cash bond to the court whereas each of their sureties is to execute a shs50 million non-cash bond.

The couple was directed to deposit their passports with court.

“The applicants shall not travel outside this country without the express permission of court. They shall report to the registrar of the International Crimes Division,” Justice Muwata directed.

The case

The prosecution alleges that the couple between December 2020 and December 2012 at Naguru in Kampala district recruited, transported and maintained the 10-year-old (name withheld for being a minor) by means of the position of vulnerability for purposes of exploitation.

The state also alleges that the couple committed an act of aggravated torture charges contrary to the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act 2012 .

The state also slapped charges of illegal stay in the country on the couple.

They were recently committed to the International Crimes Division of the High Court for trial.

 

 

 

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