“It is our submission that the trial judge erred in law when he failed to properly scrutinise and evaluate the evidence on record thereby wrongfully acquitting the respondent,” Semalemba said.
Sarah Nabikolo (right) and her cousin Sandra Nakungu (centre) appearing before the Court of Appeal at Nakasero in Kampala on March 26, 2019. Photos by Abou Kisige
KAMPALA - Assistant Director of Public Prosecution, Simon Peter Semalemba has told the Court of Appeal that Sarah Nabikolo, the widow of slain businessman Eriya Ssebunya Bugembe alias Kasiwukira was wrongfully acquitted.
While imploring the justices of the Court of Appeal to overturn Nabikolo's acquittal on Tuesday, Semalemba submitted that the trial judge failed to judiciously scrutinise the evidence on record, thereby wrongfully acquit her.
The trial justices are Elizabeth Musoke, Hellen Obura and Ezekiel Muhanguzi.
"It is our submission that the trial judge erred in law when he failed to properly scrutinise and evaluate the evidence on record thereby wrongfully acquitting the respondent," Semalemba said.
Semalemba argued that the evidence from prosecution witnesses number six, 12 and 13 was enough to pin Nabikolo as the architecture of the crime.
"Prosecution witness number 12 clearly told court that sometime in 2013 the deceased called him and informed him that there was no harmony at their home and were involved in squabbles with Nabikolo on a daily basis meaning that they were not living happily and hence her likelihood of participation in the murder," Semalemba said.
Kasiwukira was on October 17, 2014 knocked dead by a speeding motor vehicle at about 6:00am when he was jogging near his home in Muyenga diplomatic zone.
Prosecution contends that it was planned by Nabikolo, her cousin Sandra Nakungu and Ashraf Jarden, a police officer formerly attached to Muyenga police post.
In 2016, High Court judge Wilson Masalu Musene acquitted Nabikolo of murder charges, saying the prosecution did not adduce enough evidence pinning her but jailed Nakungu and Jarden for their role in Kasiwukira's murder.
This prompted the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to challenge Nabikolo's acquittal.
However, Nabikolo's lawyer, MacDosman Kabega asked the justices to dismiss the appeal on grounds that it offends Rule 66 of the Judicature Court of Appeal Rules.
"The record of proceedings in this appeal was served on the appellant on January 15, 2019. The appellant filed the memorandum of appeal on February 28, which is over a month from the date of service. Therefore, there is no pending appeal," Kabega submitted.
"We respectfully submit that the trial judge came to the right conclusion of acquitting the respondent and we invite you to dismiss this appeal," Kabega said.
Kabega argued that the trial judge properly evaluated the evidence on record when he acquitted Nabikolo.
"In case the court finds that Nabikolo lied in her evidence as the prosecution asserts, the inconsistences should be found not enough to prove that she participated in Kasiwukira's murder," Kabega submitted.
Kabega insisted that the prosecution failed to bring any useful evidence linking Nabikolo to the crime and there is no sufficient ground as to why her acquittal should be overturned.
According to Kabega, the prosecution case was entirely based on suspicion.
Nabikolo who was in company of his children and friends appeared calm as his lawyer argued the case.
Nabikolo's co-accused seek acquittal
As the prosecution fights to have Nabikolo's acquittal overturned, the two convicts Nakungu and Jarden have also asked the Court of Appeal to set them free on grounds that they were not accorded a fair trial by the lower court.
Through their lawyer, Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, they argue that the decision by the lower court to refuse them from producing witnesses denied them a right to a fair trial as required under Article 28 of the Constitution.
Rwakafuuzi submitted that most of the prosecution witnesses were coached to pin the accused while others wanted the sh20m prize from police.
"When a rich man dies, many stories come up because people always want to get money," Rwakafuuzi said.
However, Rwakafuuzi declined to comment on the sentence handed to appellant, saying he believes his clients are innocent.
In reply, Semalemba invited the justices to uphold the lower court's decision on grounds that there was overwhelming evidence against them.
After hearing the submissions, Justice Musoke who chaired the panel said they will give their judgement on notice.
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