By Ali Mambule
THE High Court on Thursday released two of the suspects in a high-profile ritual murder case of the 12-year-old Joseph Kasirye of Kayugi village in Mukungwe sub-county, Masaka district.
The Masaka court, presided over by Justice Moses Mukiibi, discharged the traditional herbalist, Umar Kateregga alias Bosco and his wife Mariam Nabukeera, following a directive from the Director of Public Prosecution.
The judge was, however, surprised to learn that both the prosecution and the defence wanted the released suspects to be their witnesses.
Resident state attorney Stephen Wasona informed court that they intend to call the two as their witnesses.
At the same time, the lawyer of Godfrey Kato Kajubi, the prime suspect in the murder, also indicated he wanted Kateregga and Nabukeera as witnesses.
On being arrested last October, Kateregga said he and his wife connived with another person to behead Kasirye whose head they sold to Kajubi who picked it from their shrine after midnight.
Kateregga led the Police to the swamp where the body had been hidden.
Kajubi was arrested a month later when the Police published his photograph in The New Vision but he denied the allegations against him.
Kateregga and Nabukeera were charged with the murder of Kasirye whose head they said they sold to Kajubi for sh12m. Kajubi, however, only gave them sh300,000, they said.
In a surprise turn of events, Justice Mukiibi ordered the couple released immediately unless they had other charges against them.
â€œIf there are no other charges against the two people, they should be released from prison immediately,â€ Mukiibi said.
Accordingly, the Police whisked the two suspects away from the court to an unknown place. They were taken away in a saloon car belonging to a senior Police officer.
Southern regional Police spokesperson Noah Serunjogi said: â€œThe Police only took them away for security reasons. We suspected that Kateregga and his wife could be harmed by people and I assure you that they are not in prison or detained anywhere. We respect court decisions.â€
After the couple was freed, Kajubi stood in the dock alone and denied killing Kasirye.
â€œThree witnesses will appear in court to testify on the side of Kajubi and these include Michael Mwebe, Umar Kateregga alias Bosco and Mariam Nabukeera,â€ his lawyer, McDusman Kabega, told court.
Last week, the DPP also withdrew the murder case against the former Mukono district Police commander, James Peter Aurien, following the mysterious disappearance of a key prosecution witness.
The release sparked off a public outcry and stunned the Police chief, Kale Kayihura, who ordered his men to find the key witness.