To Harimwomugasho, the DPP still has the burden of proof to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Kanyamunyu participated in the Akena killing. In February 2020 at the time of adjourning Kanyamunyu’s trial to the next convenient session, the prosecution had adduced evidence from 13 witnesses.
As the trial
of murder suspect Mathew Kanyamunyu resumes next week on Tuesday 20th October, the question
is whether he is going to change his plea from not-guilty or opt for plea bargaining.
is jointly charged with his Burundian girlfriend Cynthia Munangwari and his
brother Joseph Kanyamunyu for allegedly shooting a children's rights activist
Kenneth Akena to death. This was on November 12, 2016 along Kampala-Jinja High
Way near Malik Car bond, opposite the main gate of Uganda Manufacturer’s
Association in Lugogo Nakawa Division.
prime suspect Mathew Kanyamunyu last month went for a traditional ritual commonly known as Mato Oput, an Acholi word that literally means “to drink a
bitter portion made from the leaves of the ‘oput’ tree”.
It is one of the mechanisms for forgiveness and
reconciliation among the Acholi in Northern Uganda. When he went there, Kanyamunyu reportedly
admitted to killing the deceased and was asked to pay ten cows and three goats
by the elders in Acholi. Previously he
pleaded not guilty before the trial Judge.
his long awaited trial resumes on October 20 2020, some lawyers are of the view
that his alleged confession does not stand in law. They suggest that he can
either ask for plea bargain or change plea before the trial Judge, Stephen Mubiru
of the High Court Criminal Division.
Andrew Mumpenje states that what happened in Acholi as Mato Oput is not
regulated by the Judiciary. He says it would have been different if Kanyamunyu had
opted for plea bargaining where an accused appears to court and formally informs
the Judicial Officer accepting liability and commission of the offense such
that the state can give them a lesser sentence.
that this one can be done with the permission and guidance of court but Mato Oput
cannot be cited in courts as a confession.
says that Mato Oput poses a challenge to the trial Judge who could have read the
news about it.
Mumpenje, although legally the Judge is not allowed to rely on in his decision,
psychologically he has already known and registered Kanyamunyu as the person who killed Akena.
high that the Judge's mind and mentality has already been polluted to believe
that Kanyamunyu is a killer; even if the evidence by the prosecution is too
little and too weak to warrant a conviction because the Judge read papers and
saw him, even though he doesn't cite Mato Oput”, said Mumpenje.
The lawyer says
that Judges are also overwhelmed by the public outcry.
are in Justice Mubiru’s shoes and then you make a decision acquitting
Kanyamunyu when the whole world saw him confessing in Mato Oput ceremony!" he wondered.
the public outcry, it may force a Judge to take a decision he wouldn't made hadn't Kanyamunyu gone for the Mato Oput”, Mumpenje added, saying the
traditional ceremony is more psychological than legal.
//Cue in: “Chances are high…
Cue out: …the
But the the
former Secretary General of Uganda Law Society Francis Harimwomugasho says Mato
Oput is not a confirmation that one has participated in murder or any other crime.
He says by appearing before the Acholi
leaders, Kanyamunyu did not plead guilty but only cleansed some evil spirits.
the DPP still has the burden of proof to prove beyond reasonable doubt that
Kanyamunyu participated in the Akena killing. In February 2020 at the time of
adjourning Kanyamunyu’s trial to the next convenient session, the prosecution
had adduced evidence from 13 witnesses.
//Cue in: “Mato
Cue out: …in
the murder”. //
lawyer Ramathan Waiswa expects that if at all Kanyamunyu is convicted, he may
ask for a lenient sentence and bring out the circumstances of Mato Put as one
of the grounds to seek a lenient sentence.
notes that a Judge cannot rely on Mato Oput to convict someone because it’s not
binding in law.
that he doesn't see the trial going on up to the end but he suspects that
Kanyamunyu has to either opt for a plea bargaining or change his plea because
from what he saw in the media, Kanyamunyu has already expressed his guilt.
The lawyers now
argue that if Kanyamunyu pleads guilty since it is a case of family and lovers, his
co-accused may also all accept to participating in the crime.
Kanyamunyu’s lawyers Evans Ochieng told URN that ever since he went for Mato
Oput they had not yet met with him to discuss, the way forward but he expects that they will meet before court resumes next week.