By Our Reporter
A coram of three Justices of Appeal sitting in Mbale High Court have ordered for a re-trial of Andrew Francis Obirai, the man serving 35 years of imprisonment for causing death of girlfriend after pouring acid on her.
In a unanimous ruling delivered yesterday, 7th February, 2023, the Justices; Hellen Obura, Catherine Bamugemereire and Christopher Madrama ordered for the retrial on grounds that the High Court trial proceeded without Assessors.
Obirai lodged his appeal with the Court of Appeal on 12 grounds; one of which was that the trial Judge erred in law and fact when he convicted him without following the law governing the Assessors’ participation in the trial proceedings thereby causing a miscarriage of Justice.
Obirai convinced the Court of Appeal Justices that the two Assessors the trial Justice used were never took oaths before the start of the trial. He also argued that whereas the duo was later parachuted into the hearing of his case after takeoff, the same missed many hearings where critical evidence was given.
To make matters worse, the trial judge made no reference to the opinions of the Assessors before delivering his ruling, although he was not bound by their opinions.
This the judges concurred disclosed a point of law ruling thus, “In the premises, no valid trial took place and the cause of justice requires such offences of murder to be tried. We hereby order a retrial in the High Court. The appellant is remanded pending re-trial in the High Court where he may apply for bail pending re-trial.”
Obirai was accused of attacking Dorothy Atim (30) using acid on September 8th 2013 at their home in senior quarters in Soroti town.
Atim was rushed to Mulago hospital, Kampala, in critical condition. She died February 28, after spending six months in Ward 2C where she was admitted.
Obirai, the man suspected to have carried out the attack, handed himself to police in Soroti district in October 2013. He was later convicted and sentenced to 35 years on 9th March, 2018.