By Ronald Nahabwe
The government of Uganda is to carry out a new inquest into the death of former Butaleja district Woman Member of Parliament Cerinah Nebanda, despite the arrest and conviction of Adam Kalungi, who was the key suspect in her death which occurred in 2012.
The Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana told Parliament last week that the inquest was hampered by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who held onto all the required files during the prosecution.
Nebanda, 24, who was serving her first term in the House, died at Mukwaya General Hospital, where she was rushed on the evening of December 14, 2012. Police later attributed the legislator’s death to narcotics consumption.
Following her death, legislators and the public demanded that foreign intelligence investigators be called in to probe the strange death. Police arrested the legislator’s acquaintance, Kalungi, who was charged and convicted of manslaughter in January 2014 but later acquitted of the charges.
During the Tuesday sitting, Rukutana said that the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe had appointed Justice Paul Mugamba as the coroner to head the inquest into Nebanda’s.
“There are still some procedural technicalities and hence the inquest is yet to start. There was a demand to prosecute the suspects and the DPP rushed to court,” said Rukutana.
Rukutana was responding to an issue raised by Jinja East MP, Paul Mwiru, who wondered why the government was delaying to release the report of investigations into Nebanda’s death. “Everything the coroner would have used was used by the DPP in court. The coroner found it very difficult to proceed,” Rukutana added.
A coroner is an official appointed by the government to investigate a violent, sudden and suspicious death.
The Attorney General said that the time allocated the inquest expired since prosecution took a lot of time in court.
“The request for the inquest was not reinstated. We are now examining the possibility of reconstituting the inquest afresh,” Rukutana noted, said adding that “When this happens we shall inform the House.”
Mwiru suggested that government be given timelines within which to report about the issue considering that it had not been handled for a long time.
Theodore Ssekikubo (NRM, Lwemiyaga) said the government should restart the process as the court procedure ended years ago.
Medard Lubega (DP, Busiro East) was of the view that the inquest remained necessary even with the court conviction since there was suspicion in the MPs death.
“The proper killers can still be got. The inquest is still important even with the conviction since the convict admitted to being a drug addict,” he said.
He added that a decision should have been taken already following the completion of the court process.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga gave the Attorney General two weeks to present to Parliament an update on the matter