High Court judge Steven Mubiru has on Monday dismissed an application in which city businessman Matthew Kanyamunyu had asked court to stay his trial until he concludes Mato Oput, a traditional justice system (in Acholi) and plea bargaining with the office of the Director of Public Prosecution.
Before dismissing the application, court learnt that Kanyamunyu had dumped his lawyers and instructed new ones from Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA).
Dismissing the application, the judge pointed out that for quite a long period of time, the accused person has been given time to prepare for his trial but he has been misusing it which has led to the case to transverse three criminal sessions.
He advised Kanyamunyu that in case he needs court to consider his plea bargain, he should first surrender his rights of innocence for court to give him audience to negotiate on the suitable punishment.
“If you want reconciliation, you do it at an early stage, why do you wait for the victims’ side to testify and then change your stand? On my side that’s not the right way of reconciliation,” the Judge said.
The judge asked the prosecution to take extra measures while handling the plea bargaining process “because the accused has not given an explanation why it has taken him so long to change his plea, therefore, he may end up abusing the whole process.”
Justice Mubiru also pointed out that the trial involves another person who is not party in the plea bargaining therefore suspending the trial without clear reasons would lead to violation of the accused person’s right to free and speedy trial.
Halting the trial until the conclusion of Mato Oput, the judge said that even though it’s a process to promote reconciliation and reforming the subject, in this matter, Kanyamunyu, throughout the application, never confessed to having killed Akena so that he can be taken through the required process.
“This process became questionable because; how can a person who has not confessed to having committed the offence be subjected to the process?” the judge posed.
Justice Mubiru also noted that this process is aimed at promoting togetherness and harmony within the local communities of Acholi but it raises more questions on how it can be suitably applied to a crime which was committed more than 100 kilometers away.
The judge ordered Kanyamunyu to be ready to proceed with the case at any cost because it has delayed in the system yet it has to be disposed off in the shortest period possible.