Judge refuses to stop retrial in serial killer case

By Sania Babirye

Kampala high court judge Yasin Nyanzi has dismissed an application in which the Director of public prosecution Mike Chibita was seeking Justice Nyanzi to review his order for a retrial of serial killer Baker Walusimbi who is charged with the murder of three university female students in 2006.

On the 17th of October 2018, Justice Nyanzi released Walusimbi on bail and ordered for a retrial after spending 13 years on remand at Luzira prison.

This is after court completed hearing his case in 2006 however a judgement could not be made because two court assessors in his case had disappeared since then.

In April this year, Justice Nyanzi had warned State that he could not keep Walusimbi on remand forever in the interest of Justice and that if State failed to trace the assessors he will be left with one option of freeing Walusimbi and that then police can re-arrest him and reinstate the said charges so that he be tried afresh with New court assessors.

However, today, when the said case came up for mention, senior State attorney Isiah Wanamama informed court that the DPP sought court to review its decision and continue with determination of the case since they had traced one of the two missing court assessors.

Wanamama informed court that Janat Nandutu had been traced from Wakiso district by the office of the CID and she is currently at the CID headquarters in Kibuli ready to give her opinion to help court determine the case.

However, this did not go well with Walusimbi’s Lawyer MCDucman Kabega who objected to the said application.

Kabega instead asked Justice Nyanzi to dismiss the said application calling it an abuse of court process since State had already consented to the said rolling by according a retrial.

Kabega informed Justice Nyanzi that senior State attorney Byansi had consented to the retrial and applied for two weeks to organize to prepare for re-trial and that they they can not be the same people to come back and say something different.

And as a result Justice Nyanzi was in agreement and dismissed the said application calling it a process of Impunity.

Justice Nyanzi stated that he cannot be part of state’s impunity questioning why the said assessor was in the hands of the police and not the court.

Justice Nyanzi explained that court assessors are part of court appointed by court and not police and there for police had no right to interfere in searching for the court assessors.

Justice Nyanzi further faulted the DPP of failing to involve the office of the court Register that is responsible for court assessors since court assessors advise the judge on whether the suspect is guilty of not and found it weird that the accusers took it upon them selves to look for the judge to determine a verdict.

Its from that perspective that the angry Justice Nyanzi stated that he cannot be part of the state’s system of impunity and informed state that police does not have all the powers in this country.

He also reminded the state that as per now, no fresh charges have been opined against Walusimbi and adjourned the matter to Monday the 24th to give his reasons for dismissing the said application.

Justice Nyanzi took over the said case in April 2018 and gave the high court registrar one month to locate the where about of the accessorize which the assessors never did up-to-date until today when state came out and claimed that the office of the COD had traced one of them and that she was in their care without even informing the office of the court Registry to the judge’s surprise.

Before releasing Walusimbi, Justice Nyanzi had further noted that the suspect had his rights to a fair and speedy trial violated for the past 13 years that he has been on remand awaiting the determination of his case.

The judge explained that if the office of the registrar finally locates the two court assessors by then, the state can re arrest Walusimbi have him charged and committed to stand a fresh trial for the different murder counts.

He said that in case this happens the case will be the longest retrial after 13 years when Walusimbi was first committed for trial.

Walusimbi was arrested on January 21st/2006 as a result of a joint crack unit by police when 2 female bodies were found raped with slit throats but dumped in different areas in Kampala.

He was consequently charged before Buganda Road Court with 3 counts of murdering Moreen Nabbale, Jacqline Najjombwe and Maria Kaitesi.