Uganda News

High Court to clear 200 criminal cases in 45 days

The Criminal Division of the High Court will hear at least 200 cases over the course of 45 days in various sessions.

The Criminal Division of the High Court will hear at least 200 cases over the course of 45 days in various sessions.

The sessions began today, according to Festo Nsenga, the court’s deputy registrar, and will also involve a plea negotiating session at Kitalya jail.

“A Juvenile session of 20 cases will be handled by Justice Michael Elubu, while a Juvenile session of 40 cases will be handled by Justice Margaret Mutonyi. Another 40 cases will be heard by a visiting judge in a separate session. “We also have a plea bargaining session in which we hope to close at least 100 deals,” Nsenga added.

In a criminal case, a plea bargain is an agreement between the prosecution and the accused in which the latter agrees to plead guilty to a specific charge in exchange for a concession from the prosecutor.

An accused pleads guilty to the initial criminal accusation in exchange for a more lenient punishment under this agreement.

The hearings were scheduled to take place earlier but were postponed owing to the Covid-19 shutdown, according to the High Court deputy registrar.

He said that aggravated defilement and aggravated robbery make up half of the cases, while aggravated trafficking and rape make up the other half.

According to Nsenga, the Principal Judge, Dr. Flavian Zeija, will launch a plea negotiating prison camp at Kitalya Prison next month, with at least 100 plea deals anticipated to be reached.

“So far, 70 convicts have shown a desire to negotiate, but we expect that number to rise to more than 100 throughout the prison camp,” he added.

The remaining sessions will take place in Nakasongola and Luwero courts, with aggravated defilement accounting for the majority of cases (43), followed by murder (15), rape (11), aggravated robbery (10) and kidnap with intent to murder (10) in that order.

These are some of the steps taken by the judiciary to cope with the backlog of cases.

Last Thursday, prisons announced that they are stuck with 6,912 convicts whose cases are stalled.

Despite being committed for trial in the High Court, 4440 suspected capital criminals who had completed their statutory six-month detention period have never been tried, according to Uganda Prisons Service spokesperson Frank Baine.

Another 2472 convicts, he said, had never been sent to High Court for trial.

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