Katanga murder trial: Defence team left frustrated as judge declines to kick out lead prosecutor accused of bias…but allows Molly to appear via zoom

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KAMPALA — The defence team in the high-profile trial of Ms Molly Katanga was left reeling with frustration after the judge refused to remove the lead prosecutor, Samalie Wakholi from the case.

The defence had accused Wakholi of bias and conflict of interest, citing her involvement in preparing the summary of evidence, including a DNA report.

Despite their objections, High Court Judge Isaac Muwata ruled that Wakholi would continue to prosecute the case, sparking fears of bias from the accused.

The defence team had argued that Wakholi’s involvement in preparing the summary of evidence, including the DNA report, constituted a clear conflict of interest.

They claimed that Wakholi’s bias was evident in her preparation of the summary, which they alleged was flawed and misleading.

The prosecution, however, maintained that Wakholi’s role was limited to guiding on the evidence required, and that a competent DNA expert would testify regarding the report.

Nevertheless, Justice Muwata opined that Wakholi merely signed on the prepared case summary evidence and that doesn’t make her a witness. He says those mentioned in the summary are the ones to testify if necessary.

MOLLY APPEARS VIA VIDEO LINK

Key suspect, Molly Katanga, followed the proceedings via video link citing health reasons (dizziness, headache etc.) She undertook to sign the formal application warranting her to appear via video link after today’s deliberations as prayed for by prosecution.

Whereas, prosecution did not object to the matter, they argued that Molly should be able to be physically produced in court in case the nature of the prosecution witness requires her physical presence; and that in the event that she is put on her defence, she should appear physically for cross examination.

FIRST WITNESS TESTIFIES

The prosecution today has also produced Superintendent of police, Dr. Julius Muhwezi, 44 years old from the directorate of police Health Services, Nsambya.

He testified carrying out medical examinations on suspects Otai Charles and George Amanyire (who are facing two charges: being accessories after the fact of murder and destroying and tampering evidence) on November 12, 2023 while in detention at Jinja Road police station.

He said his findings on police form 24 shows that the two did not have any fresh or recent external physical injuries seen on the body and also appeared to be in their normal mental state.

On cross examination, defence lawyer Elison Karuhanga questioned why he had to examine someone who had been in detention beyond 48 hours.

Whereas they were arrested on 2nd November, a medical examination took place on 12th.

Karuhanga also wondered why the examined suspects did not sign on the police form 24.

Curiously it also emerged that Police form 24 for Charles Otia had two stamps with different dates on when the medical examination was carried out.

One stamp shows 12th November, 2023 and another 13th.

Witness Muhwezi who insists his examination was conducted on 12th November, admitted that indeed his signature appears on the adulterated stamp of 13th November which he says doesn’t resemble the ones they use at the police’s health facility in Nsambya.

Karuhanga also questioned Muhwezi’s findings on the normal mental status of Otai, yet the former suffers from Asthma and had not got treatment by then.

Since police form 24, has three parts and the first two were not signed by the medical officer, defence lawyer, MacDosman Kabega suggested that Muhwezi should not own them up and should be expunged.

Despite all this, witness Muhwezi maintained that he indeed medically examined Otai and Amanyire on 12th November, 2024 and that those were the findings.

Molly Katanga is accused of murdering her husband, Henry Katanga, a renowned businessman who succumbed to a gunshot wound on November 2, 2023, at their Kampala residence.

Her co-accused include George Amanyire, a domestic worker, Charles Otai, a nursing officer, and her two daughters, Patricia Kakwanza and Martha Nkwanzi, who are accused of destroying evidence and being accessories to the murder.

The offense of murder carries a maximum sentence of death upon conviction, while destroying evidence and being an accessory to murder each carries a seven-year jail term.

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