KAMPALA- The High Court last evening rejected releasing on bail the Kanyamunyu brothers who are facing murder charges over the shooting to death of a child human rights activist, Kenneth Akena, in Kampala late last year.
Following their failed plea to be released on bail, the accused, Matthew Kanyamunyu, his girlfriend Cynthia Munwangari and his elder brother Joseph Kanyamunyu, were sent back to Luzira prison where they have been since late last year.
While rejecting the application to release the accused on bail pending the hearing of their murder case, presiding Judge Elizabeth Kabanda observed that in a capital offence, the accused are required to prove to court exceptional circumstances to warrant their release on bail, which the trio failed.
The exceptional circumstances, among others, include grave illness that cannot be treated in prison and advanced age (above 50 years).
Justice Kabanda held that although the Kanyamunyus had presented substantial sureties, including Ms Winnie Byanyima, the wife of Opposition leader, Dr Kizza Besigye, the DPP should be given a chance to complete investigations. Ms Byanyima is also Executive Director of Oxfam International.
The judge advised the accused to reapply to be released on bail in case the State does not commit them to the High Court at their next court appearance on January 17 before the Nakawa court.
Earlier in the day during the hearing of the bail application, Ms Samalie Wakooli, the Principal State Attorney, strongly objected to the release of the trio on bail.
Ms Wakooli argued that for an accused person facing capital offences to be released on bail, they must prove to court that there exist exceptional circumstances such as grave illness, or advanced age to warrant their release on bail pending trial, which the three accused have failed to do so.
She added that the three accused are young and looked energetic and healthy before the court, meaning they can withstand the prison conditions hence no need to release them on bail.
The State prosecutor was skeptical about the key suspect (Matthew) for being in possession of a valid visa to France, saying there are high chances of him fleeing the country once released on bail.
The other grounds that they have fixed places of abode that they relied on to seek for their release, Ms Wakooli argued that the fact that their places of abode appeared on the charge sheet, is not a guarantee that they own the homes.
She argued they could be tenants who could shift to another location any time.
But on countering the arguments of the prosecution, defence lawyer Abraham Mpumire, asked the court to release his clients on bail, saying applying for bail is a constitutional right and it should not be denied mechanically simply because the State insists so.
Counsel Mpumire stressed to the court that as long as it’s convinced that the applicants will return for the hearing of the case, then they should not be denied the benefit.
The other sureties that the accused had presented for their release were Ms Byanyima’s sisters Edith and Martha Byanyima.