By Hillary Nsambu
THE Court of Appeal has allowed a defence lawyer, Charles Darlton Opwonya, to adduce additional evidence in an appeal in which the former Mukono District Police Commander, James Peter Aurien challenges conviction and sentence of death meted against him by the High Court in 2010 for killing his wife.
Opwonya told the court on Monday that the additional evidence he wanted to adduce was missing on the court record during the trial of his client, yet it was very crucial in the decision of the case. This was the third time Aurien’s appeal was failing to take off.
On the two previous occasions, Aurien’s appeal failed to take off because he had had no lawyer to represent him on appeal. Upon acquiring one, his new lawyer sought to peruse the voluminous file before he could make tangible submissions.
When the appeal again came up for submissions Opwonya, sought and was allowed to adduce additional evidence, which he alleged he had found missing from the court file during his trial.
Principal State Attorney Sam Oola did not oppose the application by Opwonya.
“For the seriousness of this offence that attracts a death penalty, we adjourn the hearing of this appeal to a future date to be announced to enable the defence counsel to exchange the additional evidence with the DPP, who would also respond to it in time,” the court ruled.
Acting Chief Justice Steven Kavuma, who chaired the quorum, said the court would give the defence lawyers ample time so that he could serve the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) the additional evidence he would want to put on record. The other members were Justices Solome Balungi-Bbosa and Kenneth Kakuru.
In November 2010 the High Court held at Mukono convicted Aurien for the murder of his wife Christine Apolot whom he shot dead with a pistol upon suspecting that she had had extra marital affairs with another man in 2008.
The prosecution led by Principal State Attorney Jane Okuo Kajuga produced 16 witnesses including the victim’s younger sister, Helen Akello, who had allegedly been made to disappear for some time from their home after the murder of her elder sister, Apolot.
Akello’s disappearance had prompted the DPP to drop the murder charges against Aurien; but upon her re-appearance, the DPP re-instated the charges against the now convict, who appeared a worried person.