Friday, March 6, 2015

Charges withdrawn midstream for 29 accused in Uganda court-martial

The prosecution has withdrawn charges against 29 of the civilian defendants in a general court-martial in Uganda. According to this New Vision account:
However, 24 others were not released and their trial will continue as more prosecution witnesses continue to give evidence.

Prosecution led by Maj. Fredrick Kangwamu told court chaired by the Maj. Gen. Levy Karuhanga, that the 29 should be released because the state doesn’t have enough evidence.

He however said that the remaining 24 suspects face charges of murder and attempted murder.

“We have decided to withdrawal the charges because we have not got enough evidence to continue trying them but in case we get evidence we can continue with the case any time,” said Kangwamu.

Among those released are the prime minister of Rwenzururu Kingdom Nzaghale Noah, the kingdoms minister for cultural affairs Thembo Nyakango Elly, the information minister Joshua Mberemu, Yolamu Mulima the chairman of the Rwenzururu War Veterans Association also min[i]ster in charge of the veteran affairs and Aganatiya Katya the kingdom’s minister for social development.

Maj. Gen. Karuhanga said that court decided to set the suspects free but that does not mean that the state cannot bring the matter before the court again.

“I hereby set you free but the prosecution has not dropped the charges from you it may bring back the matter before court any time in case there is evidence to pin you, you can join the rest of the people outside court,” said Karuhanga.
In light of the fact that prosecution witnesses will "continue to give evidence" (emphasis added), it's unclear why the withdrawal of charges was without prejudice. Hasn't jeopardy attached? Does Uganda have a prohibition on double jeopardy?

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