Judiciary writes to NIRA over missing assessors
Judiciary officials are working around the clock to beat the 30-day ultimatum deadline period given to them to trace the two missing court assessors in the case involving suspected serial court killer, Baker Walusimbi who is on the verge of being released on bail.
Mr Solomon Muyita, the senior communications officer of the Judiciary, yesterday revealed to Daily Monitor that they have written to the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) for purposes of availing them with the contact details of the missing court assessors.
The assessors, who mysteriously went missing from Walusimbi's murder case are Ms Janet Nandutu and Mr John Bosco Higenyi.
"The management of the High Court, Criminal Division appointed Ms Janet Nandutu and John Bosco Higenyi to act as assessors in HCT.SC.No 0118 of 2007, Uganda Vs Baker Walusimbi. The High Court is ready to proceed with the case but the assessors' whereabouts are not known by court," reads in part the court's letter to NIRA written by assistant registrar Emmanuel Baguma.
"The current presiding judge gave an ultimatum period of 30 days from April 25 to May 30. Therefore, the purpose of this letter is to request you avail court with the necessary information for example the telephone number," the Judiciary letter to NIRA further read in part.
However, the judiciary assumes that the two could have registered for national identity cards to have their personal data captured.
A week ago, High Court judge Yasin Nyanzi, warned that should the Judiciary registry fail to trace for the missing court assessors in this matter within 30 days, he would be compelled to release Mr Walusimbi on bail.
Justice Nyanzi explained that to continue holding Mr Walusimbi in jail after 11 years, will be a violation of his rights because he was denied a speedy trial.
"My judicial mind tells me that I'll give the deputy registrar 30 days to find the whereabouts of the two missing assessors. If this is not done, I will proceed to grant bail with suitable conditions," Justice Nyanzi warned in his ruling on April 25.
In common law jurisdictions, court assessors are usually non-lawyers who sit together with a judge and at the end of the trial, give their lay man's opinion on whether to convict or acquit the suspect(s) basing on the evidence on court record.
An assessor's opinion or view is however, not binding on the judge when it comes to giving the final verdict as the judge may agree with their opinion or depart from it.
Mr Walusimbi is accused of killing at least three women, defiling and robbing many more female victims of mobile phones and other items in 2005. He was arrested on January 21, 2006, following a joint operation by the police and the then Violent Crime Crack Unit (VCCU).
The manhunt that resulted in Mr Walusimbi's arrest was mounted by then VCCU and police when in December 2005, two bodies of females who had first been raped and their throats slit in a similar manner were found in different areas of Kampala.
Mr Walusimbi is facing four counts of robbery and three counts of murder of Moreno Nebulae, who was a Senior Six student of Makerere College School; and Jacqueline Najjombwe and Maria Katasi, both residents of Najjanankumbi on Entebbe Road.
He initially conceded to his criminal acts but later made a U-turn.
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