KAMPALA – The High Court in Kampala has insisted that the trial in which businessman Matthew Kanyamunyu is accused of killing Kenneth Akena must go on despite the ongoing Acholi traditional justice system known as Mato Oput.
Justice Stephen Mubiru on Monday, November 9, 2020, ruled that the traditional justice system and criminal justice system are not connected, arguing that the former is only done after the offender admits to the offence while the latter involves cross-examination of witnesses. He added that in the court case, Kanyamunyu has not indicated in his application to court that he had admitted killing Akena.
“It (Mato Oput) is ideal for people living together and are related by blood since it prevents revenge and inter-tribal wars . How then do we transplant the system from the local community to a crime committed many kilometres away,” the judge added
Kanyamunyu had asked court to halt the trial to enable him conclude the plea bargain process he has started with the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, having gone through Mato Oput.
But Justice Mubiru ruled that the traditional justice system is a good system of dispute resolution in blood-related communities but not for those separated by thousands of kilometres away.
“Plea bargain can be taken at the time of plea taking. If you change the plea, the next step is to negotiate the punishment to save court’s time. However, once trial beings, the only way to stop it is by change of plea and not plea bargain,” he said.
Justice Mubiru noted that the trial will continue with the cross-examination of the 13th prosecution witness.