KAMPALA. The High Court has fixed the retrial of suspected serial killer Baker Walusimbi on August 6.
The retrial was fixed after the Judiciary failed to trace the missing two court assessors Janet Nandudu and John Bosco Higenyi, who had sat in the first trial about 10 years ago.
The assessors were necessary in law to give their layman’s opinion on the murder case before the court announced its final judgement.
Their disappearance meant that the case, which had reached judgement time, had to be tried afresh. Walusimbi’s fresh trial will be presided over by Justice Yasin Nyanzi. A new set of court assessors is expected to be unveiled at the commencement of the hearing on August 6. The suspect has been on remand in Luzira Prison for 10 years.
He is accused of murdering female students by slitting their throats and robbing them of their valuables in 2005.
Walusimbi faces four counts of robbery and three counts of murder of Moreno Nebulae (a Senior Six student of Makerere College School and Jacqueline Najjombwe and Maria Katasi (both university students and residents of Najjanankumbi on Entebbe Road).
In an earlier interview with Daily Monitor, the Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine said the fresh trial will start with a new set of court assessors as the law demands to replace those who disappeared.
Section 69 (2) of The Trial on Indictment Act demands that if court assessors in a case cannot be traced, the trial has to start afresh.
A retrial means that Walusimbi will plead to the charges afresh. The court proceedings in the previous trial will be totally disregarded and fresh evidence presented and evaluated in the new trial.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions has expressed worry about having the case heard afresh pointing to a possibility of distorted evidence and disappearance of witnesses given the time lapse.
Some witnesses such as scene of crime police officers who examined the murder scene are likely to have changed their location, duty station, died or unable to remember vividly the accounts at the time or immediately thereafter.
In June last year, a police detective investigating the case swore an affidavit suggesting to court that the two assessors disappeared after Walusimbi sent them threatening messages to get off the case.