Transport problems, unco-operative councillors cause problems at Mukono High Court

The High Court Registrar in Mukono this week pointed to transport problems as a reason for delays, New Vision newspaper reports.

Mukono High Court registrar, David Batema, has pointed out that one bus is available for use to transport prisoners to courts. Prisoners are expected at court at 9.00am but due to traffic congestion from the detention facility to the court premises, they end up arriving about two hours later when court is about to conclude, Batema said at the opening of a criminal session at the High Court of Uganda in Mukono.

"The law requires that a person is tried in his/her presence. So it is against the law for a judicial officer to begin trial of an individual unless the accused person is present in court" explained Batema.He cited incidents where the judge is forced to stay a trial while waiting for the prisoners to arrive due to the fact that most of the captives arrested from Mukono are detained within Luzira Maximum Security Prison.

Batema appealed to the Commissioner General of Prisons to consider special transport for prisoners attending court trials in Mukono to ensure that they arrive in time for court proceedings.

The judiciary, according to Batema, requires USh120 million (US$49000) and three sessions to clear the backlog of 121 committed cases pending trial in the High Court of Mukono.

The registrar further accused local councilors of hiding suspects who are meant to appear before courts of law. "Some authorities have been implicated in frustrating court brokers from serving summons especially in cases where they are interested in protecting the accused.” He explained how crucial local councilors in identifying suspects and witnesses and appealed to authorities to cooperate with courts of law in order to trace the culprits.

Judicial officers are forced to dismiss cases because the accused do not appear for trial on the required dates. In such cases, courts of law are forced to dispose of cases to the disadvantage of the victim, Batema observed.

Of the 41 cases that were currently shortlisted for hearing in the High Court, 21 were for defilement, 14 for murder, four for robbery and two for rape.

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