Uganda: Suspect enters court with pistol, threatens witness

Mamos Media

The Anti-corruption Court in Kololo, Kampala. PHOTO/FILE/URN

By Ephraim Kasozi

Tension ensued in the Anti-corruption Court in Kololo, Kampala, yesterday after a criminal suspect on trial beat security to enter the courtroom with a gun to intimidate the investigating officer who was due to testify against him.

The accused, Saleh Silas Luzinda, a mechanic from Lubowa Lower Zone, yesterday had come to court for trial before Chief Magistrate Pamela Lamunu Ocaya. 
Luzinda, who was out of prison on bail, was charged with receiving stolen property belonging to a mobile money agent.

According to the charge sheet, in January 2019 in Kampala District, Luzinda and others still at large received Shs7m knowing or having reason to believe that the said money had been stolen. 

However, Luzinda denied the charges and did not undergo the Plea Bargain process. So he was put on full trial. 

Yesterday he appeared to attend his trial, but attempted to intimidate an investigator in the case only identified as Mr Katungi.    

Trouble started before court opened at 9am when Luzida met the officer at the entrance and asked him why he was still following up the case.
The Judiciary principal communications officer, Mr Solomon Muyita, said  Luzinda and Katungi knew each other. 

He said during their conversation before entering the court premises, Luzinda beckoned Katungi to touch the bulge on his waist. Upon touching, Katungi realised Luzinda had a pistol strapped on his waist.

“He (Katungi) feared for his life but they entered with the man [Luzinda] carrying his gun. Then the policeman alerted security that the accused had entered with a gun,” Mr Muyita said.

Mr Muyita said police arrested Luzinda and disarmed him. Mr Muyita said the state prosecutor, Ms Gloria Inzikuru, narrated the incident to Ms Ocaya and applied for cancellation of  the bail.

He said upon interrogation on how and where he acquired the gun, Luzinda said he got it from a senior government official whose name was not readily established.  
Following the incident, Ms Ocaya cancelled Luzinda’s bail and remanded him to Kitalya Prison pending further investigations into the fresh case of possession of a gun and entering court while armed. 

Luzinda was remanded until April 21 for mention of the new case of interfering with court witnesses. The prosecution said a new criminal case file had been opened against Luzinda.
Ms Ocaya tasked police to provide an incident report on how Luzinda passed through security checks at the entrance to access court with a gun.
The Kampala Metropolitan deputy police spokesperson, Mr Luke Owoyesigyire, confirmed the incident. He said charges of attempted murder and threatening violence have been made.

“The gentleman (Luzinda) who is on bail had come for trial on accusations of receiving stolen property. Upon arriving at the court premises, he started threatening the witness but police disarmed him,” said Mr Owoyesigyire, adding that a star pistol with 13 bullets was recovered from Luzinda.

In a telephone interview, Mr Owoyesigyire said a new case file had been sent to Jinja Road Police for further investigations. 
He added that the police officers at the Kololo-based court would be charged with negligence of duty.

“We are yet to interview the suspect to ascertain the source of the gun. We shall record his statement in due course,” Mr Owoyesigyire added. 

Credit to Daily Monitor.

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