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Suffolk Strangler, Murder In Uganda, & JTR

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  • Suffolk Strangler, Murder In Uganda, & JTR

    New Vision
    Kampala, Uganda
    Saturday, December 16, 2006

    Author: Ian Clarke



    THIS week Dr Kiyingi was acquitted of murdering his wife. The judge said that he had reached the verdict because the prosecution had "failed miserably to argue its case beyond any reasonable doubt". The judge further added that it was better to let 99 criminals free than convict one innocent person.

    On this basis, in Uganda, it is indeed possible that 99 criminals are freed for every one successfully convicted - such a statistic does not make ordinary people feel safe sleeping in their beds at night. However, most people would agree that, at the level of High Court, we have competent, well-qualified judges who hand down judgments according to the law. The standards of proof in Uganda are the same as they are in England, but therein lies the problem. By the time a case is brought to court in the UK, much work has already been carried out to ensure that the State has a high chance of obtaining a conviction.

    This work in preparing the case is carried out, first by the Police and then by the Department of Public Prosecutions. The same system pertains in Uganda. When a crime is committed, the Police investigate, analyze the evidence, interview witnesses, take statements, narrow down the possibilities etc, until they finally make an arrest. Then they prepare their case and submit it to the DPP, who prepares the case further to be presented in court.

    At present there is a serial killer at work in the south of England. He has killed five women in the space of a week, dumping their naked bodies within a few miles radius of each other. The Police have launched a massive inquiry to hunt down this killer before more women are murdered. In the course of this investigation, one of the bodies was not moved for two whole days as the Police forensics department meticulously combed the area for evidence.

    Apparently, police in western countries are now highly dependant on DNA testing in their search for linkages. This would explain the painstaking examination of the area where the body was found before anything was disturbed.

    I knew someone who was brutally murdered in Uganda several years ago. When the body was finally found, the Police did not do anything such as cordon off the area, or take samples for DNA. They just tramped through the evidence and destroyed whatever existed. After that, they questioned some people and picked up a suspect, who was incarcerated and questioned. Later, he was released for lack of evidence. The case did not even reach court, because if it had, it would have been thrown out - there being no thread of evidence linking the suspect to the killing.

    Now my statement that 99 criminals could go free in Uganda for every one who is convicted is based on the fact that we have a standard of justice based on International law (which is good), but a standard of investigation and prosecution based on what? How would one describe Police actually tramping through the evidence and destroying it? How would one describe the death of a key witness while in Police custody? Would it not seem rather suspicious that the only person who could provide the connection to the suspect should get poisoned while under the protection of the State?

    Someone had a motive to kill that person. How do policemen who have a P7 level of educational match clever lawyers hired by the defense? Yet these men and women must produce evidence up to the standard of any international court.

    Apparently it took the British Police five years to catch Jack the Ripper , meantime he killed 30 women. That was in the days before DNA testing and, although they had interviewed him several times, they could not prove it was him. So exactly how will our Police and DPP rise to the standards of proof required to convict criminals today?

    The case against Dr. Kiyingi may have left the judge with nagging doubts, but at least it got before a judge to nag him. What about the many victims of acid attacks who are killed or mutilated and the perpetrator walks free, because the Police can't really be bothered, or the file 'gets lost' or some vital piece of evidence goes missing? Why do we think the President resorted to Operation Wembley, or to military courts?

    Because criminals could be eliminated before they even reached court, or the standards of proof were not as onerous as in the civil courts.

    I don't have the answers, but presently we have a disconnect between investigation, prosecution and justice and when this disconnect is wide enough, people begin to take the law into their own hands, because they lose confidence in the process of law.
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