MUKONO – Mukono High Court has cleared two people of six counts each including murder and aggravated trafficking of persons contrary to section 4 (c) (I) of the penal code act.
Mr. James Lutwama and Mr. Fred Kizza Ssemanda were accused of murdering Zulaika Nansamba aka Mirembe and 4 other bodies found in a shrine in Kisoga village Kayunga district in 2017.
Justice Margret Mutonyi dismissed the charges against the duo after cross-examining Mr. Wilbur Ssebuyungo who had pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 years on counts of murder and trafficking persons.
Mr. Ssebuyungo testified against his partners according to the terms offered by the State during a plea bargaining session where he was to be prosecution witness number 14.
He said that Mr. Ssemanda and Lutwama were not there during the murder of Mirembe and pinned a one Wamala of masterminding the murders.
“Lutwama and Ssemanda were not there on the night Wamala killed Mirembe.”
He claimed that after Mirembe was killed, her blood was collected in a pot and Mr. Wamala asked Ms. Harriet Nabitaka a police officer attached to Naggalama police station to lick the blood as a ritual that was meant to help her get a promotion at work.
“Nabitaka was present and the sacrifice was made in her interest to get a promotion at work.” He told Court.
During the ruling Justice Mutonyi said that she finds no evidence against the duo to keep them in prison.
“I find that there is no need to keep Mr. Lutwama and Mr. Ssemanda in prison. It will be unfair to keep them on remand till the end of the case.” Justice Mutonyi said
“They should be released unless they have other cases to answer.” She added.
Mr. Isah Walakira, another suspect in the case who was on bail was also cleared of any wrongdoing.
Mr. Gastone Kamugisha a personal lawyer to Mr. Wamala asked the court for more time to make a submission of no case to answer despite the fact that he was accused by Mr. Ssebuyungo.
He urged that his client is just a whistleblower and was arrested and charged over what he didn’t do.
“My client is a whistleblower and the dead bodies were found in Mr. Ssebuyungo’s shrines, not his. His only crime was tipping the police, Chairpersons, and CMI about the activities.” He said
Mr. Kamugisha was pleased with the ruling of convicting Mr. Ssebuyungo however, he wondered why Ms. Nabitaka has not been arrested yet the sacrifice was made in her interest to get a promotion.
The case started with the accused Mr. Muhammad Wamala alias Vicent Paul, Mr. Wilber Ssebuyungo alias Owen Ssonko, Mr. Joseph Kibuuka alias Junior, Mr. Fred Kiiza Ssemanda, Mr. Isah Walakira, and Mr. James Lutwaama
According to the Kayunga Resident’s State Attorney Ms. Christine Kalya Byamugisha in 2017, the accused persons together with others who have not yet been captured killed and buried Ms. Zulaika Nansamba aka Mirembe and four others in a shrine said to be belonging to Mr. Ssebuyungo as human sacrifices.
In May 2018 the relatives of Ms. Nansamba filed a missing person’s case at Naggalama police station.
During an operation carried out in August 2018 by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) operatives and Mukono police, Ms. Mirimbe’s body was discovered in Mr. Ssebuyungo’s shrine where she had gone for assistance against evil spirits that she believed had stopped her from getting married when she went missing.
However, upon the discovery of her body, also four other bodies were discovered buried under the shrine’s floor of which two were buried in one grave while others in separate graves each with a note of five thousand shillings.
Spears and pots of blood samples were also discovered in the shrine and confirmed to be human blood in the government’s analytical laboratory.
Since then Justice Mutonyi has convicted 2 of the suspects Mr. Ssebuyungo to 30 years on charges of murder and trafficking of persons and Mr. Joseph Walakira to 5 years on charges of accessory to murder.
Mr. Ssemanda, Mr. Lutwama, and Walakira have been acquitted due to no evidence incriminating them in the murders. Mr. Wamala has been further remanded and awaits for his lawyer’s submissions of no case to answer.