High Court Orders Release Of Teen In Viral Torture Video

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The High Court sitting in Kampala has overturned the trial and 3-year-long prison sentence of Kafta Queen, an 18-year-old teenager who was captured in a viral video in January torturing a friend for allegedly “snatching” her boyfriend.

On Friday, 21st July, the High Court presided over by Justice Margaret Mutonyi scathingly criticized Chief Magistrate Roseline Nsenge of Kiira Magistrate’s Court who tried Kafta Queen for conducting the case in “total” violation of the Constitution.

Justice Mutonyi cited at least two instances in the trial for her conclusion that the lower Court did not try Kafta Queen in a fair manner.

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One, the Judge found that despite facing a criminal charge of “ Aggravated Torture” that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, Kafta Queen was not represented by any lawyer (whether private or provided by the government) something the Magistrate realized but overlooked hence violating her right to legal representation per Article 28 of the Constitution.

Two,  Justice Mutonyi found that Kafta Queen was not accorded a fair hearing (in the literal sense) when the Chief Magistrate met her victim, one Pretty Nicole, a 15-year-old teen, in her chambers during the mitigation process, – in Kafta Queen’s absence.

Even when the trial resumed in Public, the Chief Magistrate heard the Prosecution regarding mitigation but didn’t get Kafta Queen’s response.

“ The learned Chief Magistrate failed completely to address her mind to the constitutional right of a fair trial to the accused (Kafta Queen). Her good Judgement was clouded with emotions which caused her to lean towards meting out punishment and completely ignoring the strict and mandatory legal provisions pertaining to legal representation in this case.”

High Court Judge Margaret Mutonyi said.

Kafta Queen had “outrightly pleaded guilty” to the criminal charge despite the prosecution and the Chief Magistrate not indicating that the facts of the case met all the elements of the charge, Justice Mutonyi said.

The Judge went on to criticize the Chief Magistrate’s personal attacks on Pretty Nicole in the case which had played to the emotions of many in light of the sexual connotations involved, describing them as “unkind words.”

“ She went ahead and commented on the victim (Pretty Nicole) in very unkind words mentioning her name which was erroneous because victims involved in sexual promiscuity when young should not have their names published.  Since court documents are public documents, mentioning them without using pseudo names amounts to publication which is forbidden under the Children Act. So, much as the victim had despicable conduct, she was young at 15 years and deserved to be protected.”

Justice Mutonyi said.

Instead of ordering the case to be retried which was the expected way, Justice Mutonyi seized the powers vested in the High Court under Section 17 of the Judicature Act as they relate to the Court’s overall supervisory powers over lower courts to prevent abuse of court processes and delays of trials.

“ In view of the above section, and having found that the entire trial was invalid. I have considered the whole case in totality and hold that ordering a retrial would not meet the ends of Justice. It would further traumatize the victim who must have since moved on.  It would not, therefore, occasion any injustice to the victim and the prosecution.”

The Judge ruled.  

Benjamin Ahikiiriza is a Legal Writer And Digital Communications & Marketing Specialist majoring in Lawyers, Law Firms And the larger Legal Sector.

Benjamin currently Works as the Director of Content and Business Development At LegalReports.


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