Kampala. High Court Judge Flavia Anglin Ssenoga yesterday called off the hearing and stormed out of court after a defence lawyer in the car bond murder trial refused to present suspects in the order court wanted.
Lawyer Mr Evans Ochieng told court that he had not prepared the Accused No One (A1) Muhammed Ssebuwufu to make his defence but instead said the second, third, sixth and seventh accused were ready.
“Defence lawyer, if you are not ready to proceed with these witnesses chronologically, starting with A1 just seek an adjournment. That is a sign that defence is not prepared today,”Ms Ssenoga said.
Mr Ssebuwufu is jointly charged with seven others; Mr Paul Tasingika, Godfrey Kayiza; Philip Mirambe; Stephen Lwanga; Yoweri Kitayimba; Damaseni Ssentongo and Shaban Otuddu in the murder of a businesswoman Donah Betty Katusabe on October 21, 2015 at Pine Car Bond on Lumumba Avenue in Kampala and robbing her of a mobile phone worth Shs300, 000 before they allegedly tortured her to death.
Justice Ssenoga argued that all the parties have been in court since the prosecution started presenting its evidence in December 2017 and there was no way the defence team could hoodwink court to believe that they had not prepared the first accused person to make his defence.
When Mr Ochieng insisted on starting with the other accused persons other than Mr Ssebuwufu, Justice Ssenoga listened with rising irritation before walking out of the proceedings.
Justice Ssenoga had earlier informed the defence that the court record of proceedings would be distorted if she proceeded with other accused persons without a sound reason as to why the key suspect would not present his defence first.
Both the defence and prosecution sides, after a brief consultation with each other, proceeded to Justice Ssenoga’s chambers to seek a way forward.
However, she directed them to go to the Assistant Registrar for Inspector of Courts, Mr Jamson Karemani, who adjourned the case to December 4.
Mr Karemani said this would probably be ample time for the key suspect, Mr Ssebuwufu, to be ready to give his defence.
Last week, Justice Ssenoga ruled that all accused persons have a case to answer in connection to Katusabe’s murder after perusal and evaluation of 26 prosecution witnesses.