Businessman Matthew Kanyamunyu has been sentenced to five years and one month in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter.
Kanyamunyu pleaded guilty of killing social worker Kenneth Akena.
He was sentenced on Thursday by High Court Judge Steven Mubiru.
Meanwhile, his girlfriend Cynthia Munwangari has been set free by the court after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) withdrew the charges after against her.
Recently, Kanyamunyu’s family sought the intervention of Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) and Acholi Cultural Institution to broker a reconciliation agreement between them and Akena’s family to find a closure to the case.
However, on Monday, the High Court in Kampala insisted that the trial in which Kanyamunyu is accused of killing Akena must go on despite the ongoing Acholi traditional justice system known as Mato Oput.
Justice Mubiru on Monday, November 9, 2020, ruled that the traditional justice system and criminal justice system are not connected, arguing that the former is only done after the offender admits to the offence while the latter involves cross-examination of witnesses. He added that in the court case, Kanyamunyu has not indicated in his application to court that he had admitted killing Akena.
“It (Mato Oput) is ideal for people living together and are related by blood since it prevents revenge and inter-tribal wars . How then do we transplant the system from the local community to a crime committed many kilometres away,” the judge added
Kanyamunyu had asked court to halt the trial to enable him conclude the plea bargain process he has started with the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, having gone through Mato Oput.
But Justice Mubiru ruled that the traditional justice system is a good system of dispute resolution in blood-related communities but not for those separated by thousands of kilometres away.
“Plea bargain can be taken at the time of plea taking. If you change the plea, the next step is to negotiate the punishment to save court’s time. However, once trial beings, the only way to stop it is by change of plea and not plea bargain,” he said.
Justice Mubiru noted that the trial will continue with the cross-examination of the 13th prosecution witness.
Kanyamunyu was arrested in 2016 on suspicion that he drew a gun at Akena after he reportedly accidentally knocked his car in a parking lot in Lugogo, Kampala. Akena had reportedly gone to apologise to Kanyamunyu after the accident, but Kanyamunyu instead lowered the window of his car and shot him in the stomach with a pistol at close range. According to the family, a postmortem report revealed two bullets inside Akena’s body.
Akena died a few hours later at Norvic hospital along Bombo Road where he had been taken by the accused. Kanyamunyu has since then been on trial together with his Burundian girlfriend Cynthia Munwangari and sibling Joseph Kanyamunyu who allegedly hid the killer gun. But throughout the trial, Kanyamunyu and his girlfriend insisted that they only took Akena to hospital as good Samaritans.
But in an alleged dying declaration, Akena reportedly told his relatives that he was shot by the same people who took him to hospital.
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