THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF UGANDA
(CORUM : ODOKI, CJ, ODER,
TSEKOOKO, KAROKORA AND KANYEIHAMBA, JJSC.)
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 44 OF
1. KOOKY SHARMA) :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
2. PALINDER KUMAR )
[APPEAL from the decision of the Court of Appeal,
at Kampala (MANYINDO DCJ, MPAGI-BAHIGEINE AND BERKO, JJA.) dated 19th
SEPTEMBER 2000 in COURT OF APPEAL CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 7 of
JUDGMENT OP THE COURT: This is an appeal
against the decision of the Court of Appeal which confirmed the conviction by
the High Court of the appellants for
the murder of Renu Joshi, the wife of the
The first appellant, Kooky Shamar (A1), is the elder brother of the second
appellant, Davinder Kumar (A2). The deceased, Renu Joshi, was the wife of
the. first appellant with whom he had two children. The first appellant lived
with his deceased wife and the two children in a rented house, at Plot 43/45
Martin Road, Old Kampala. In the same house lived their
cook called Raju and a
lame relative of the first appellant called Bitu Kumar. The first appellant
owned a shop across the same road
at Plot 40A Martin Road. The second appellant
assisted the first appellant in running that shop.
Kooky's residence was part of a two family building. The other part was
occupied by the family of Mr. Rurebwa Deo Twine (PW2) who
lived with his wife
Margaret Twine (PW14) and his children including his daughter Busingye Lilian
Twine (PWl). The residences of
the two families were separated by an inner
common partition wall.
On 23/12/1997, the two appellants had a busy day at their shop selling
commodities. The first appellant left home at 9.00 a.m. and
did not return home
for lunch till 2.30 p.m. At home he found his deceased wife and his cook Raju.
The first appellant was served
lunch by Raju. At about 3.00 p.m., he returned to
the shop and continued selling shop goods as well as supervising construction of
flats on the top of the shop building.
It was the case for the prosecution that the two appellants returned to the
residence in the course of the night after closing the
shop probably soon after
midnight. According to Lilian Busingye (PWl) at night she heard two male voices
and cries of a female from
Kooky's residence. She also heard from the same house
at the same time banging or beating. The crying of the female voice went on
a long time and when the cries decreased, Lilian resumed her sleep.
During the same night, Mr. Rurebwa Twine heard quarrels and a female crying
and so he woke up his wife, Margaret Twine (PW14) saying
"your friend is being
beaten". Margaret Twine woke up and also heard the deceased crying saying
"mummy" "mummy". At the same time
Margaret Twine heard and recognized the voices
of the two appellants from the same house. She also heard from the same house
followed by cries of the deceased. She went back to sleep after these
noises stopped. Next morning on 24/12/1997 she saw a mattress
put up in the
corridor of the residence of Kooky leaning against and covering a window. This
was her first time to see a mattress
covering a window in this manner. She also
saw a mechanic in the compound where there were two vehicles. That morning,
to attend to her drug shop business but returned home after
learning of the murder of the deceased.
Later the same morning of 24/12/1997, Abdi Jamal (PW3), an LC1 Chairman of
the area learnt of the death of the deceased. He went to
Kooky's house where he
found Kooky, who was planning to have the body of the deceased cremated. Kooky
claimed that the deceased had
died of malaria. Jamal looked at the deceased's
body which was dressed up to the writs and ankles except for the face. Kooky
to take the body of the deceased for cremation. As Jamal was not
satisfied with the cause of the death of the deceased, Jamal prevented
from taking the body for quick and hurried cremation. Jamal got some information
as a result of which he called the police
from the nearby Old Kampala police
station. Police officers examined the body and upon noticing bruises on the
body, treated the
case as murder. This was about 11.00 a.m. The policemen and
Jamal made a quick search of Kooky's residence. Raju, the cook, was found
in bed, unconscious, with broken limbs and a swollen mouth. Police took him to
Nsambya Hospital where he was admitted. When
the police returned to Nsambya
Hospital two days latter they could not trace Raju there. Raju has never been
seen or heard of again
On the 24/12/1997, at 1.00 p.m., at the request of the police, Dr. Martin
Kalyemenya (PW10), a pathologist at Mulago Hospital, carried
out an autopsy on
the body of the deceased. Externally, he observed multiple bruises which he
described as burns caused by electric
action or acid. When he opened up the
body, he noticed that the liver and the spleen were coloured slightly
differently from what
they should normally be. So he removed a piece of liver,
the spleen, a kidney and a piece of brain and sent them to a Government
Mr. Emmanuel Nsubuga, (PW13) for chemical analysis. This doctor formed the
opinion that the cause of death was:
"shock due to electrical burns with blunt injury. Poison could not be ruled
Mr. Emmanuel Nsubuga (PW13) the Senior Government Chemist, carried out
toxicological analysis on the parts of the body which were
sent to him by Dr.
Kalyemenya. He found some amounts of acaricide poison in all those
It appears there was general dissatisfaction in respect of the opinion of Dr.
Kalyemenya about the cause of the death of the deceased.
29/12/1997, another autopsy was carried out by Dr. Wabinga H. R, who was the
Head of the Pathology Department of
the Medical School at Mulago. He also saw
the multiple bruises and the electric burns seen earlier by Dr. Kalyemenya. Dr.
opinion was that the cause of death was shock due to the punched out
abrasions which, like Dr. Kalyemenya, he observed on the lateral
areas of both
upper and lower limbs accompanied by multipde ecchymosis.
It was the case for the prosecution that the two appellants murdered the
deceased by means of electric shocks.
In their defence during the trial, the appellants made lengthy unsworn
statements during which they were fully examined by their respective
which is contrary to normal practice. We will revert to this at the end of this
judgment. Be that as it may, according to
each appellant, on 23/12/1997 from the
morning, the two sold goods in their shop. The first appellant (Kooky) also
of flats on top of the shop. He returned home at 2.30
p.m. where Raju, the cook, served lunch to him. The deceased wife was present
and apparently there was nothing unusual in the home. After lunch the first
appellant returned to the shop and resumed supervision
in the shop. He was
assisted by the 2nd Appellant together with Babu and Kumar Palinder
(DW1). This went on up to about 9.30 p.m. when the second appellant, Kumar
(DW1), Babu and Bitu, the lame man, went home (Al's residence) to have
their supper before returning to the shop at about 10.00 p.m.
At that time Raju
the cook took food to the first appellant who ate it from the shop. Up to this
point there is no evidence about
any thing being wrong with the deceased or with
According to their statements, appellants and their assistants continued with
the sales till after midnight when the first appellant
went home to sleep. The
2nd appellant together with Palinder Kumar and Babu retired in their
room at the rear of the shop. That night there was no UEB electricity
whole of Martin Road area including the shop and the residence. The first
appellant claimed that when he reached home,
he found Bitu and the children
sleeping in their own bedroom. The first appellant entered his bedroom where he
found the deceased
seated on the bed with hands folded and held on the stomach.
She said she had pain in the stomach. She refused A1's suggestion that
should visit a doctor. According to A1 the deceased went to the toilet twice but
still she did not want to visit a doctor. This
went on for twenty minutes.
Nothing suggests that the first appellant called for a doctor. Because he was
tired, the first appellant
chose to enter his bed to sleep only to be awakened
at 4.00 a.m. by the cries of the deceased. She was sweating. The first appellant
then called Raju the cook four times but Raju could not respond. So A1 phoned A2
whom he sent to fetch a doctor. A2 fetched Dr. Prakash
Patel (PW5). Meantime A1
also phoned Doctor Shah. Dr. Patel arrived at the scene first at about 5.00
a.m., and examined the deceased
and pronounced her dead. According to A1, he and
the two doctors (Patel and Shah) saw a packet of metecalfine tablets. A1 claimed
that he asked A2 to inform the police and the LC1 Chairman, among others, about
the death of the deceased. He also phoned Raju Taylor
(PW4), the Chairman of the
Indian Community in Uganda. Taylor came to the scene and made arrangements to
get a priest so as to prepare
to cremate the body at 11.00 a.m. At that time, as
the body was due to be taken for cremation, police arrived at the scene and
took A1 and A2 to Old Kampla Police Station. As they were going with
police, people who had gathered in A1's home shouted:-
"Kooky had killed his wife".
A1 denied killing the deceased.
In his defence, A2 denied killing the deceased and also repeated much of what
was said by A1 about the business in the shop during
the day and on the evening
of 23.12.97 both before and after lunch. A2 stated that between 9.30 p.m. and
10.00 p.m., he (A2), Kumar
Palinder, Bitu and Babu had supper at the residence
of A1. They returned to the shop and carried on business till after midnight
when they retired in their bedroom and slept. A1 went to sleep at his home after
midnight. At 4.00 a.m. A1 phoned and asked A2 to
fetch a doctor. A2, collected
Dr. Patel and took him to attend to the deceased at A1's home, where they
arrived at about 5.00 a.m.
Dr. Patel, who was later joined by Dr. Shah,
pronounced Renu Joshi dead after examining her. A2 denied participation in
deceased. Both appellants claimed, in their statements in court that
the Twine family testified against them because Twine wanted
to purchase the
whole of plot 43/45 where each family lived.
In the trial Court and in the Court of Appeal, defence counsel in their
addresses dwelt much on two issues. The first issue was that
identification of the appellants by voice was inadequate and unreliable. The
second issue was that the cause of death
connecting the appellants to the
killing of the deceased was not proven. Counsel contended that medical evidence
as to the cause
of death was inconclusive because firstly that since there was
no evidence of electricity in A1's residence on 23/24 Dec, 1997, the
Dr. Kalyemenya and Wabinga that the deceased died of electric shock was
inconclusive. Secondly that the evidence of Dr.
Kalyemenya and that of the
Government chemist, Mr. Emmanuel Nsubuga, (PW13) shows that the deceased could
have died of poisoning
by ingestion of acaricide which Nsubuga found in the
parts of the body which were sent to him by Dr. Kalyemenya for examination.
According to defence counsel, the presence of acaricide supports the theory that
the deceased committed suicide.
At the conclusion of hearing the case in the trial Court, the male assessor
whose opinion was a little confused, advised acquittal.
The female assessor
believed the medical evidence that death was due to electric shock and that that
was the cause of death. She
also believed Mrs. Twine's evidence about the
identification of the appellants by voice. She advised conviction.
The learned trial judge ruled out death due to malaria and poisoning. He
relied on the evidence of Dr. Wabinga as to the cause of
death and on the
evidence of Mrs. Twine as to the identification of the appellants by voices. He
found that although there was no
electricity in Martin Road area on the material
night, the appellants caused the death of the deceased by use of electric
shocks. The learned Judge found that although acaricide poison was traced in the
body of the deceased, death was in
fact due to electric shock and that it is the
two appellants who must have administered the electric shocks. The learned Judge
the two appellants of the murder of the deceased and sentenced each of
them to death. On appeal to the Court below, the appellants'
as we have observed already, on the same two issues, namely that of
identification and of the cause of death.
The Court of Appeal upheld the
findings of the trial judge and therefore dismissed the appeal. The appellants
have now come to this
Court. Each of the appellants filed a separate memorandum
The first appellant was represented by Mr. P. S. Ayigihugu and Mr.
Mubiru-Nsubuga.. His memorandum of appeal contained four grounds
Counsel, Mr. Ayigihugu, abandoned ground 4. The second appellant was represented
by Mr. Akampurira who presented a memorandum
containing three grounds of appeal.
During submissions, he abandoned the third ground.
We will first consider the grounds of the first appellant. The first
complaint in his memorandum of appeal is that in view of conflicting
evidence, the Court of Appeal erred in law by failing to subject medical
evidence to fresh scrutiny and merely confirmed
the trial judge's holding that
the death of the deceased was caused by electric burns. In other words the
complaint as we understand
(a) The Court of Appeal did not re-evaluate medical evidence but merely
confirmed the trial judge's finding that death was due to
(b) Medical evidence on the cause of death is conflicting and
When arguing this ground, Mr. Mubiru-Nsubuga referred us to the evidence of
the three prosecution expert witnesses, namely Dr. Kalyemenya
Wabinga (PW12) and the Senior Government Chemist, Mr. Emmanuel Nsubuga (PW13).
Learned counsel pointed out that Dr. Kalyemenya
was the first pathologist to
carry out the autopsy on 24/12/97 at 1.00 p.m., 7 hours after death and when the
body was still warm.
Counsel pointed out that although this doctor saw multiple
electric burns, he found no internal injuries and as he was not sure of
cause of death, and after noticing that the liver and the spleen had changed
colour, he removed pieces of the brain, the liver
and kidney and sent them to
the Government Chemist for toxicological analysis. The doctor did not rule out
death by poisoning. Learned
counsel urged us to rely on Dr. Kalyemenya's
evidence in preference to that of Dr. Wabinga because the former doctor was
by the finding of toxicological analysis of Mr. Emmanuel Nsubuga, the
senior Government Chemist whose evidence shows that the quantity
acaricide found in the parts sent to him was high and could cause death. Learned
counsel criticised the two Courts below for
relying on the evidence of
Dr.Wabinga who gave a firm opinion that the multiple electric burns found on the
body of the deceased
could cause death and also held the firm view that there
was no need to rely on the findings of the Government chemist. Counsel urged
to hold that the deceased must have committed suicide. Counsel cited Waihi
& Another vs. Uganda (1968) EA 278 and Criminal Evidence by
Richard May (1986) Ed; pages 139/140 in support of his
Mr. Byabakama-Mugenyi, Senior Principal State Attorney, appearing for the
Respondent, supported the decisions of the two Courts below.
He contended that
there was no discrepancy between the evidence of Dr. Kalyemenya and that of Dr.
Wabinga as to the cause of death.
According to the learned Senior Principal
State Attorney, Dr. Kalyemenya indicated throughout his evidence that electric
could cause death even though he was not sure of the cause of death. On
the other hand, Mr. Byabakama-Mugenyi submitted that Dr.
Wabinga who found on
the body of the deceased the same injuries as did Dr. Kalyemenya, was of the
view that the multiple electric
burns were the cause of death. Learned SPSA
contended that Dr. Kalyemenya found no specific signs or features such as traces
in the mouth of the deceased or any vomit which are features of
poisoning causing death. Counsel submitted that the claim by A1 in
statement in Court that before she died the deceased vomited, sweated and lost
breath was an afterthought which he gave
after listening to medical evidence
given by Kalyemenya and Nsubuga in Court about the symptoms of a person dying
by acaricide and that this afterthought statement should be
ignored. Mr. Byabakama- Mugenyi contended that though poison was found
body of the deceased, it was not poison which was the probable cause of
It is clear that the conviction of the appellants was based solely on
circumstantial evidence. Moreover, this is a case in which the
two Courts below
have made concurring findings of fact based on expert opinions that the cause of
death was due to electric burns
and not poisoning. Furthermore, one of the
assessors was of the same view. In these circumstances we would, as a second
Court, ordinarily be bound by those concurrent findings. However, this
is a peculiar case. Two doctors, and a chemist, have proffered
opinions which to some extent conflict as to the cause of death. It is upon
these opinions that the convictions of the
appellants were based. In as much as
the expert opinions were not demeanours of the experts which influenced the
courts below, we
can review the evidence of the experts as well as the approach
adopted by the two Courts. We do this because it does not appear to
us that in
forming his conclusion, the learned trial judge was influenced by the demeanour
of any of the expert witnesses. Conclusions
of a trial judge which are based on
demeanour of a witness or witnesses seen by him at the trial should not normally
unless such conclusions are clearly erroneous in law or do not
reflect the correct position of all the evidence available on the
Patrick May on Criminal Evidence_(supra) and (Phipson on Evidence
14th Ed., page 831/832.
We will now examine the relevant evidence including that of the appellants.
First we have the evidence of the first appellant himself.
On 23/12/1997 he left
his deceased wife at home at 9.00 a.m. There is no suggestion that she was sick.
It is only Kumar Palinder
(DW1) who claimed she had been sickish 2 days before.
The claim that she was receiving treatment at Dr. Ahmad's clinic a few days
before her death was destroyed by the evidence of Dr. Nuwagira (PW8) and this is
reflected in Exh. P8, which shows that she received
treatment for mild malaria
on 1/12/1997 which was three weeks before her death. Further, on the morning of
23/12/1997, Mrs. Twine
(PW14) saw the deceased well and alive hanging her
clothes on a line in the yard. They greeted each other. The deceased must have
been fit enough to wash clothes in the early morning and hang them outside. It
appears she was friendly to Mrs. Twine and in all
probability she would have
said she was sick if indeed she was. At 2.30 p.m. the first appellant went back
home and ate his lunch
after A2, Palinder Kumar (DW1) and Babu had had their
lunch. The deceased was present. There is nothing to suggest that she was sick.
Between 9.30 p.m. and 10.00 p.m. on the same day, again A2, Babu and Palinder
ate food in the same home. There does not seem to have
been any problem with
either the deceased or Raju, the cook. Indeed, the latter took food to A1 in the
shop after 10.00 p.m. which
food A1 ate. We hear nothing wrong about either the
deceased or Raju. According to the two appellants, A1 left the shop soon after
midnight. According to his own statement, A1 arrived home soon after midnight.
His two children and Bitu, the lame man, were asleep
in their own bedroom. Also
Raju the cook was asleep in his own separate bedroom. It was only the deceased
who was sitting on her
bed with folded hands touching her abdomen, or the chest,
because of pain in the stomach. A1 stayed up for a while persuading her
a doctor. She refused. Curiously, instead of calling a doctor, A1 chose to enter
his bed to sleep only to be awakened at
4.00 a.m. by the cries of the deceased
who was holding her abdomen. He then called A2 and instructed him to fetch a
We note that in his charge and caution statement recorded by the police on
24/12/1997, A1 stated, in so far as it is relevant, that:
"On 24,12/97 the deceased woke me up and informed me that she was feeling
pain from her heart. This was about 4.00 a.m. I called my
brother KUMAR from
where he puts (sic) and I sent him to call a doctor to come and attend to the
Clearly, this statement which A1 made immediately after the death of the
deceased gives a very different picture from what A1 stated
in Court. It
suggests that until the deceased woke A1 up at 4.00 a.m., he had not observed
anything wrong with the deceased. Indeed,
it suggests that when he returned home
after midnight, the deceased showed no sign of sickness. Dr. Patel (PW5) and a
Dr. Shah appeared
on the scene probably soon after the death of the deceased but
the remarkable thing is that Dr. Patel who examined the deceased did
not see any
naked part of the body save for the face. Instead of saying what the deceased
suffered from, A1 told Dr. Patel that the
deceased died of malaria. How did he
know this so quickly? There is of course evidence that before Dr. Patel was
called, Lilian Twine
(PWl) had heard cries of a female voice and noises of
voices of two males. She also heard beating and banging at the same time. So
Mr Twine (PW2) and Mrs Margaret Twine (PW14). The latter was definite that the
cry was that of the deceased and the male voices
were those of A1 and A2.
However injuries consistent with beating were not found on the body of the
deceased. This may mean that
some other person was the one who was
In the morning as Mrs Margaret Twine was going to work, she saw two Benz cars
in A1's yard and a mechanic who used to repair vehicles
there. There is no
explanation about the presence of this mechanic that morning. Later at 1.00 p.m.
Dr. Kalyemenya carried out an
autopsy. The results appear on Exh. P4 signed by
him and read as follows: "External injuries:
bruises on both upper and lower limbs surrounding multiple Black Deep Burns
Cause of death and reason for same:
Shock Due to Electrical burns with blunt injury. Poisoning could not be Ruled
out. The brain liver and kidney, have (sic) taken for
This appears to mean that Dr. Kalyemenya was not certain that shock due to
electric burns was the cause of death. On the other hand.
Dr. Wabinga (PW12) who
carried out a second post-mortem on the same body five days later, on
29/12/1997, recorded his findings on
Exh. P.5 as follows:-
Punched out abrasions 1 cm- Diameter involving the lateral areas of both
upper and lower limbs accompanied by ecchymoses (multiple).
Cause of Death
and Reason for same.
"Suspected shock due to above injuries (specimen taken off for Toxicological
Mr. Emmanuel Nsubuga, (PW13), Senior Government Analyst recorded his own
toxicological analysis and findings in his report, exh.P.6,
22nd January 1998 as follows: -
"Phosphine test for organophosphorus poison - positive.
By Gas Chromatography and Thin Layer Chromatography Analysis, Chlorfenvinphos
was detected in the exhibits, (brain, liver, kidney
and stomach and its
N.B. Chlorfenvinphos is the active ingredient for Acaricides like
Supona Extra, Superdip and Steladone. It kills if
We note that the information provided in each of Exh. P4, P5 and P.6 is
brief. The trial Court record shows that each of the three
witnesses gave more
detailed information. In particular Mr. Emmanuel Nsubuga asserted when he
testified nearly 1 year and 3 months
after his report was made that:-
"I did not quantify (poison) but it was in macro amount. That substance is
very toxic. When it is ingested, it can cause death".
The police sent organs of the deceased person to Mr. Nsubuga for analysis. It
is most likely he was aware that the police wanted to
know if there was poison
in the organs which could have caused death. We would have expected Mr. Nsubuga
to indicate in his report
the ratio in percentage terms of poison found in the
organs and whether that amount must have caused death. We think that without
of notes made by him when analysing the organs on which he could have made notes
as to the quantity of the poison found in the
organs upon which he carried out
toxicological analysis, his opinions to court about the quantity of poison found
in the organs is
of least weight.
Because of the controversy in regard to medical evidence we will quote
medical evidence in some detail.
In his examination in-chief in so far as relevant, Dr. Kalyemenya stated that
"I examined the body and found the following external injuries. Multiple
ecchymotic bruises on both upper and lower limbs there were
black deep burns going into the dermis but not extending to the subcutaneous
tissues. These injuries could not
tell me what actually caused
I found on arm (sic) multiple bruises with the burns then on the forearm.
There were similar injuries on both hands. The same was
seen on both lower
The burns involved the epidermis and the dermis but did not extend to the
subcutaneous tissue. The burns were skin deep.
Burns were injuries caused by either fire or chemicals.
I saw small almost pin head burns spot burns. They were not extensive
burns. What I could think about is may be ELECTRODE being inserted into
the skin. In electricity we have two points, the positive and negative points.
The two could have been put on
skin for an electric shock; if power is high you
get burns. If it is 240 volts you get the shock as well as the burns at the
of insertion of the positive and negative electrodes. The power in
ordinary electric bulbs could cause
the burns. By looking at the external injuries I could not conclude
the cause of death I went ahead and opened the body. I looked
at all the organs
- the brain, the lungs, the heart, the liver, the kidneys. There were no
injuries on all these organs. Each organ looked normal except
the liver which
was a bit grey but of the normal size. These organs ordinarily should be
reddish-pink in colour. I suspected they could be poisoning. ...I took the brain
the liver and kidney
(for toxicological analysis)".
Later on still during examination- in-chief the doctor testified
"In this case disregarding the organs which I sent to the Government chemist
the probable cause of death was shock due to electric burns and blunt
ecchymotic bruises. The injuries the ecchymotic could cause death. With the
electrical burns, the electricity itself causes
cardiac arrest or ceasing of the functioning of the heart. It is neurones
which carry the message of pain. A lot of pain inflicted
on human being can
actually cause irreversible shock which means death. It does not matter on which
part of the body pain is inflicted."
During cross examination by three counsel (Kasule, Kabega and Mubiru-
Nsubuga) for the appellants, the doctor referred to poisoning,
but he largely
repeated the opinions he expressed in examination- in- chief. Thus in cross
examination by Mr. Kasule, the doctor
"I am not certain about the cause of death.
What makes me say that the injuries were a result of electric power was
because of the spot burns which appeared in two sides. I said I saw two burnt
areas which appeared as though someone had placed two electrodes at each of
those points. If there were no
two burnt areas I would have no means of telling
that electricity was used. The two burnt areas were about one centimetre
At the time I made this report I did not know the other possible cause of
death. If it transpires that the cause of death was something
else then my
conclusion in the post-mortem report would not be correct."
When cross-examined by Mr. Kabega, this is what the doctor answered:- "The
bruises which I found on the body were superficial
They could have been a result of electric shock. I equated power to that of
electric bulbs. I do not agree that if the voltage was
240 the burns would have
been deeper. The eccyymotic bruises were a result of the burns What I said on
the post-mortem report was
PROBABLE CAUSE OF DEATH. I said so. I added that
poison could not be ruled out. This made shock only a probable cause of
Following questioning by the Court, Dr. Kalyemenya was further cross-
examined by Mr. Kabega, defence counsel and revealed that there
was a mortuary
book in which he wrote some information about the post- mortem he did on the
body of the deceased. There were two
entries relating to the cause of death. One
entry was in black ink entered on 24/ 12/97 which stated that:-
"No anatomical cause of death: Shock?
The Doctor explained
that by this he meant to say that.-
"All internal organs of the body looked normal. I could not find the cause
of death as far as those organs were concerned. There was
a question mark. I
mean that shock was a possibility. I had seen external injuries."
On 25/12/97 members of the Indian Community criticised the doctor at his
clinic and demanded to know why the doctor did not, after
viewing 'he body, note
in the mortuary book bruises he had seen on the body. After that confrontation
the doctor then wrote in blue
ink the passage which reads:-
"Has multiple bruising over upper and lower limbs"
He also wrote the word "MURDER" to satisfy the anger of the Members of the
Indian Community. Clearly this means that Dr. Kalyemenya was not confident
in his opinions. It must be in this context that the learned trial judge
observed that this doctor was over-cautious. He does not appear to be confident
in his opinions. That is why he yielded to public
demand. The evidence of the
doctor himself shows that immediately after his report, there was
dissatisfaction about his findings.
The first dissatisfaction was from the
Indian Community which took trouble to bring in another pathologist from Kisumu,
were also complaints by the Director of CID, and from the Director
of Mulago Hospital, Dr. Kaggwa, who eventually asked Dr. Henry
the Head of Pathology Department, where Dr. Kalyemenya was a member, to carry
out a fresh autopsy. Dr. Wabinga did
this, apparently, in the presence of Dr.
Kalyemenya, himself and many other doctors. We note in passing that Dr.
as a pathologist in 1996, just one year before he carried
out the postmortem in this case.
We will now refer to the evidence of Dr. Wabinga. He had qualified as a
doctor in 1979 and as a pathologist in 1987 so that by the
time he carried out
the autopsy on 29/12/1997, he had been a pathologist for 11 years.
We have already reproduced relevant contents of the post-mortem report by Dr.
H. Wabinga. He said this in his evidence:-
"I examined the body and found external injuries. These were punched out
(round like) abrasions of about 1 centimetre in diameter,
they were involving
the lateral areas of both upper and lower limbs, accompanied with ecchymosis,
ecchymosis means large collection
of blood under the skin An abrasion is an
injury to the skin which is superficial. Ecchymosis was around the punched out
with (sic) ecchymosis are caused by electrical burns
I did not find any injuries on the internal organs which were there-like
the intestines, the lungs the brain.
I concluded that this lady died of shock due to the injuries I mentioned
above - the punched out abrasions with accompanying ecchymossis.
particular case the punched out abrasion with accompanying ecchymossis are due
to electrical bums. These burns cause a cardiogenic
shock. This is shock due to
fast beating of the heart. A heart beats by electrical impulses. When you
introduce an electric current
it interferes with your electrical impulse causing
the heart fast (sic) this leads to shock. Shock is lack of perfusion of blood
the body tissues. Cardiogenic shock means that the heart is not pumping blood to
the body tissues. The other organs of the body
fail to function. Death occurs.
Cardiagenic shock does not cause any tell tale signs on other organs of the
body. Such death does
not depend on the state of the person. We are talking
about an electric current entering the body. Even '0' Ne electric burn can
the results. I observed multiple punched out electrical burns. The
injuries caused sudden death As a pathologist when I am reading my findings I
do not have to take into account the results of the toxicological analysis.
My conclusion does not depend on the findings of a Government Chemist.
Whatever the findings of the Government analyst I would maintain my
conclusion. I request for toxicological analysis where I suspect
poison. I would like to find out the type of poison."
On poison the witness stated:-
" Before a pathologist forms an opinion that there could have been
poisoning on the body, it depends on the poison. There is no general
poisoning. These features are specific and depend on the poison; a type of
poison leaves a specific feature. When you
see that feature you take a specimen
for analysis. I would take a specimen when I suspect poisoning after seeing a
feature of poisoning.
That is what I expect a competent pathologist to do. I did
not suspect any poisoning in the case of Reno Joshi. The duration after
does not affect my observation of features of poisoning and my suspicion that
there was poisoning".
During cross-examination by Mr. Kasule, the doctor was shown the report made
by Dr Kalyemenya, where upon he stated that the latter's
findings were similar
to his. He maintained his earlier opinion that the cause of death was shock due
to the injuries he had described.
He ruled out any other probable cause of
death. In his view if the electric voltage was very high the burning would have
and would cover the whole body. That a voltage of 240 or 110
would cause the injuries he saw. Dr. Wabinga was emphatic that it was
unlikely that burns could have been caused by anything else other than
electricity. He saw electrodes punched out bruises with encchymosis.
Again he emphasised that the injuries which were all over the lateral
aspects of the body could not have been caused by anything else
and that the
burns could not be self inflicted because of the nature and site of the
injuries. Apparently, the "beating" did not
cause injury to the
Now it is clear that the evidence of the two doctors agree on the nature and
site of the injuries. The doctors also agree that the
injuries were caused by
the application of electricity to the body. Whereas doctor Kalyemenya at some
point said that these burns
caused death, he later doubted this. He eventually
stated that he was doubtful as to the cause of death. On the other hand, Dr.
was firmly of the view that it is the electric burns which killed the
deceased. He ruled out poisoning and gave reasons why. He was
asked to say what specific features of poisoning by acricide would be.
The two Courts below did not consider or take into account the experience of
each of the two doctors. We note that Dr. Kalyemenya
qualified as a doctor in
1984 and as a pathologist in 1996. It is clear that Dr. Wabinga has 11 years
experience as a qualified pathologist
whereas Dr. Kalyemenya had only one year
as a qualified pathologist. In these circumstances we appreciate the
equivocation in Dr.
Kalyemenya's opinion and with respect this must be due to
less experience. We accordingly think that the learned trial judge and
of Appeal acted properly in relying on the opinion of Dr. Wabinga. The blame on
the learned trial judge is that he dwelt
too much on the medical evidence by
reverting to the same finding over and over. He accepted Dr. Wabinga's opinion
the evidence of both doctors over and over and that of the
Government chemist to whose evidence we shall turn shortly.
In his unsworn statement in his defence, A1 was guided and led by his
counsel. The first appellant attempted to give terminal symptoms
of his deceased
wife to match with the evidence given by both Dr. Kalyemenya and the Government
chemist. Yet on 24/12/97, in his
charge and caution statement to the police, the
first appellant never mentioned such symptoms but only claimed that his deceased
wife woke him up and complained that she was suffering from the heart. On this
aspect of the defence of A1, we agree with the Learned
Senior Principal State
Attorney that the story given by the first appellant in court about the symptoms
allegedly exhibited by the
deceased, were an afterthought designed to support
the explanations of Dr. Kalyemenya and Mr. Nsubuga.
Earlier in this judgment we set out the relevant contents of Mr. Nsubuga's
report. In Court after he had recited those contents he
expounded on his report
"An acaricide is a chemical used to kill ticks. Chlorfenvinphos is in
that group of organophosphorus. I did not quantify hut it was in macro
amount in each organ.
It was in substantial amount. That substance is very toxic. When it is
ingested it can cause death. I don't know if it is the one which
caused death Once acaricide is ingested inside the stomach the first signs
will appear between 2 to 8 hours some of the symptoms may include nausea,
sweating, dizziness, somebody feels drunk. Later after 8 hours other symptoms
appear which include diarrhoea, respiratory failure
and eventually death occurs.
I dont not know how long after taking poison death would occur.
I could not tell for how long the substance had stayed in these organs. I
could not tell if the substance had caused the death of the person from whom
these organs were removed."
Yet towards the end of cross-examination, he stated:-
"From my analysis of the four organs the amount of poison found in them
could have caused death. It is possible."
Surprisingly after expressing that doubt, the witness further testified that
as little as 1000 milligrams can cause death and that
the amount he found in the
organs were more than that. This piece of evidence is a little puzzling because
if the request for analysis
indicated suspicion that the person had been
poisoned we would expect Mr. Nsubuga as Senior Government Chemist to have put in
report the quantity in ratio or figures found in the organs and the
consequences of those quantities. It is difficult to believe
this opinion which
was expressed more than one year after the analysis was made particularly since
the witness was only saying these
things from his memory.
We have already said that the trial judge evaluated all medical evidence
repeatedly before he ruled out malaria as a possible cause
of death. Like the
Court of Appeal we think that the Judge was justified on the medical evidence in
holding that malaria did not
kill the deceased.
On poison as a probable cause of death, apart from considering medical
evidence, the learned judge considered the conduct of the first
the critical period after he arrived home from the shop which A1 said was soon
after midnight on 23rd - 24th December, 1997. The judge
concluded that the evidence of the appellant was lies and unreliable. Under our
criminal system of justice,
an accused can only be convicted on the basis of
evidence adduced by the prosecution but not of lies in his evidence. However on
the facts of this case we think that on the evidence before him the learned
Judge was entitled to make that conclusion. The Judge
then considered the
evidence of Dr. Kalyemenya and that of Mr. E. Nsubuga about how acaricide could
cause death. He concluded that
"Nsubuga Emmanuel (PWl3) confessed during his testimony that he did not know
if it was the acaricide which caused the death of the
person from whom the
organs were removed."
Earlier in this judgment, we produced the relevant evidence of Mr. Nsubuga.
The judge opined that on the basis of the evidence of
Nsubuga and Dr.
Kalyemenya, it was possible to detect poison in the internal organs when in
actual fact the poison did not cause
the death of the deceased. He therefore
concluded that though acaricide was in the deceased's internal organs it had not
the level of causing death. Therefore poison was not the operating and
immediate cause of the death of the deceased. The learned
Justices of the Court
of Appeal evaluated the expert evidence which we have alluded to before they
concurred with the conclusions
of the trial judge.
As we have pointed out, both Dr. Kalyemenya and Mr. Nsubuga were ambivalent
and not firm in their different opinions about acaricide
as having been the
effective cause of death. On the evidence as a whole we cannot say that either
the trial Judge erred in his findings
or that the Court of Appeal acted wrongly
in concurring with the findings of the trial Judge that acaricide was not the
cause of the death of the deceased.
With regard to electric burns as the cause of the death of the deceased, we
have noted from the court record that the learned trial
judge considered the
views of counsel for both sides as canvassed before him. He considered the
apparent anomalies such as the possibility
that Dr. Wabinga's report of autopsy
which is said to have been done in the presence of other doctors was apparently
to the trial Court. We note that the judge considered the very
crucial factor that by the time when injuries were inflicted on the
there was no "UEB" electricity in the area including the residence of the first
appellant where the injuries were inflicted
on the deceased.
The trial judge reviewed the evidence of Dr. Kalyemenya relating to the
electric burns, their causes and effect and how those burns can result in
gradual death. The judge also reviewed the evidence of Dr. Wabinga who
that the electric injuries he saw could cause death. The judge then held
that the two doctors were in agreement on the following:-
(i) What they saw as external injuries on the body of Renu Joshi;
(ii) The parts of the body which were affected by the injuries;
(iii) The fact that the injuries were located in the lateral areas of the
(iv) The classification of the injuries as electrical
(v) The cause of the injuries as electricity, and the use of electrodes;
(vi) The cause of death and reason for the same expressed to be shock due to
electrical burns and the injuries.
The judge again opined that on the basis of the evidence of the two doctors,
the external injuries found on the deceased were inflicted
by another person or
other persons and not the deceased herself. He also correctly concluded that the
area of disagreement between
the evidence of the two doctors concerned the
question whether or not it was necessary to send some internal organs of the
for toxicological analysis. He evaluated the views of the two doctors
about circumstances that would lead a pathologist to send body
toxicological analysis and concluded, again correctly in our judgment, that none
of the pathologists saw any specific
feature of poisoning when they opened up
the body of the deceased. We have said that the judge carefully considered the
in court and at the police, of the first appellant concerning the
cause of the death of the deceased and found the version given
by the first
appellant to be unreliable and so he rejected that version.
In the appeal to the Court below, grounds one and two were complaints about
conflicting medical evidence and the finding by the trial judge that
death was due to electric burns whereas there was no electricity in the house
the deceased died. In this respect, ground one which has been argued
before us in this appeal is in reality a combination of those
two grounds. Those
two grounds were argued in the court below by Mr. Nsubuga-Mubiru who has argued
ground one before us. His arguments
in the court below revolved around the
evidence of the same three witnesses whose evidence we have earlier reproduced -
of Dr. Kalyemenya Martin (PW10) Dr. H. Wabinga (PW12) and Mr. E.
Nsubuga. The Court of Appeal set out the essentials of the evidence
three witnesses and that of Dr. P. Patel and Dr. Muwagira (PW8). After
evaluating all that evidence, the Court of Appeal,
like the trial judge, ruled
out death due to malaria or other natural causes. With regard to acaridide, the
Court of Appeal also
"In our view the learned judge was therefore right in finding that though
acaricide was found in the deceased's internal organs it
had not reached the
level of causing death and therefore the poison was not the operating and
immediate cause of death."
The Court accepted the submission of Mr. Ngolobe, Senior Principal State
Attorney, who opposed the appeal in that court, and the finding
of the trial
judge that suicide by the deceased was untenable. The court also held that if
the deceased wanted to commit suicide
by poisoning herself, there would have
been no need for anybody to inflict the kind of injuries found on her body. The
Court of Appeal
agreed with the trial judge that the deceased was tortured and
also poisoned to cover up the cause of death.
In our view the evidence of Mr. E. Nsubuga (PW13) which was accepted by the
trial judge and the Court of Appeal that acaricide found
in the body of the
deceased was in substantial quantities is inexplicable. We have already referred
to Mr. Nsubuga's evidence where
it is clear that he neither noted anywhere, the
amount of acaricide poison found in the deceased's body nor the details of his
analysis when he made the analysis in Dec, 1997 and wrote his report on
22/1/1998. Therefore to come up as late as 1999 when he testified
in the court
and assert from memory that the amount was substantial certainly creates doubt
about his conclusions. Indeed in our
view of his ambivalent evidence, we are
supported by his own statement that he was not sure that the acaricide caused
In our opinion Mr. Nsubuga's opinion was more of speculation than
scientific and the opinion was unhelpful on the cause of death.
We think that the evidence on shock due to electrical burns as having been
the cause of death is overwhelming. Dr. Wabinga's evidence
was very clear about
this. Indeed, in spite of his ambivalence in his own opinion about the cause of
death, Dr. Kalyemenya essentially
supported Dr. Wabinga when he stated in his
autopsy report that the cause of death was:- " shock due to electrical burns
with blunt injury".
There was a suggestion that in view of the evidence that there was no
electricity in Kooky's residence where the deceased died, the
to prove that the cause of death was due to electricity. In that regard we refer
to the reasoning of the East
African Court of Appeal in S. Mungai Vs.
Republic (1965) EA 782 at page 787 to the effect that there was no burden on
the prosecution to prove the nature of the weapon used in inflicting
which caused death nor was there an obligation to prove how the instrument was
obtained or applied in inflicting the harm.
Mr. Mubiru-Nsubuga relied on the case of Waihi vs. Uganda (Supra). It
is clear that in that case medical evidence was unsatisfactory about the cause
of death. But the confessions of the appellants
and the other evidence pointed
irresistibly to an unlawful killing. The conviction for murder was up held by
the Court of Appeal
for E. Africa.
Upon a review of all the relevant evidence, we have no doubt in our minds
that medical evidence established that the deceased died
from shock caused by
electrical burns and the burning by electricity was deliberate. Therefore Ground
one of the appeal before us
must fail. The discussions of ground one would
really dispose of the appeal by the first appellant. But we will now consider
by Mr. Ayigihugu who argued together grounds two and three of the
memoranda of appeal of the first appellant.
The complaint in ground two is that the Court of Appeal erred in law in
failing to evaluate the evidence of Dr. Kalyemenya (PW10)
and of Mr. E. Nsubuga
(PW13) and confirmed the trial judges holding that death of the deceased could
have not been caused by poison.
In the third ground, the complaint is that the Court of Appeal erred in law
in failing to resolve the conflicting evidence in favour
of the appellants.
These two complaints are in reality different aspects of the complaints raised
by ground one in this appeal of
the first appellant; only that they are worded
slightly differently. From the submissions of Mr. Ayigihugu, it is clear that
complaints are about the cause of death.
Mr. Ayigihugu first adopted the submissions made by Mr. Mubiru- Nsubuga in
relation to the first ground which we have just disposed
of. Arguing ground 2
and 3, Mr Ayigihugu contended that the learned trial judge was biased and also
prejudiced towards the evidence
of Dr. Kalyemenya. Learned counsel contended
further that the trial judge did not rely on Dr. Kalyemenya's evidence of
because he believed that Dr. Kalyemenya fabricated that evidence of
poisoning and therefore the judge considered it reluctantly.
learned counsel, because of the judge's prejudice, he could not find that the
death of the deceased was caused by nothing
other than electric shock. Counsel
also contended that the Court of Appeal erred when it confirmed the conclusions
of the trial Judge.
Counsel submitted that Dr. Kalyemenya had reason for
removing the brain, liver and a kidney and that the doctor's action was
by E. Nsubuga (PW 13) who found poison in the three organs of the
deceased. The role of the chemist, argued Mr. Ayigihugu, was to
substance as to its contents and possible effect. Counsel criticised the trial
Judge and the Court of Appeal for their
view that poisoning had not reached the
terminal stage. Counsel referred to the charge and caution statement and in his
in court, where the first appellant claimed that the deceased
was sweating and went to the toilet twice. Counsel submitted that the
Judge did not give serious thought to this evidence and that the Judge shifted
the burden of proof to the first appellant when
he held that poison had not
reached terminal stage.
Again learned counsel argued that the two courts below misunderstood the
evidence of the chemist when those courts held first that
the chemist did not
tell how long the poison had been in the body and secondly its cause. Yet the
role of the chemist was to analyse
the substance as to its contents and its
possible effect. Counsel argued that poison was a factor that could cause death
the prosecution did not disprove this. Mr Ayigihugu submitted that had
the two courts below fairly evaluated the evidence on poisoning,
they would have
found that death was due to poison.
As noted already in this judgmenet, Mr. Byabakama-Mugenyi submitted, that
symptoms of poisoning were not seen on the body of the deceased
and that it was
the first appellant who gave symptoms in his unsworn statement as an
after-thought after he had earlier heard the
evidence of Dr. Kalyemenya and Mr.
Nsubuga in court. Counsel submitted that A1 informed Dr. Patel (PW5), the first
doctor to see
the dead body, that the deceased had been suffering from malaria
for which she received treatment from a clinic run by Dr. Nuwagaba
Ahmad. Yet in his charge and caution statement, A1 did not refer to these
symptoms but only claimed that the deceased was
"feeling pain from her
The learned Senior Principal State Attorney contended that death was not due
to poisoning. He further argued that the absence of electricity
on Martin Road
area at the residence of the first appellant where the deceased was killed does
not rule out death by electrical shock.
He contended that belated police arrival
at the scene gave opportunity for the removal from the scene of weapons used in
He also submitted that by discouraging the cleaning of the body
which had been dressed up to the ankles and wrist, A1's conduct
in that respect
supports the view that injuries were caused by electric shock. Counsel pointed
out Dr. Kalyemenya's evidence which
confirmed that these injuries existed at the
time of death. Counsel urged us to find that the Court of Appeal acted properly
the finding of the trial judge on the cause of death.
We were referred by Mr. Ayigihugu to a passage in the judgment of the trial
judge in support of counsel's contentions that the judge
was biased and also
prejudiced in regard to the evidence of Dr. Kalyemenya. The passage reads :-
"In my view Dr. Kalyemenya (PWE10) was just overcautious and he had to
find some reasons for his action of removing some internal organs
and sending them for toxicological analysis. As a pathologist Dr. Kalymenya
(PW10) did not
say that poisoning had manifested itself in any way on the body
or in the organs of Renu Joshi. This goes to strengthen my finding
acaricide was in the deceased's internal organs it had not reached the level of
causing death. None of the pathologists
saw any specific feature of poisoning
when they opened up the body of Renu Joshi".
We think that the view of the learned judge expressed in the first sentence
of the above passage is, with respect, a misdirection
on the evidence. The
doctor removed the organs because of the colour of the liver and the spleen.
Subject to this observation, and
with respect to learned counsel, we are unable
to read into this or any other passage in the judgment any bias or prejudice by
trial judge regarding the evidence of Dr. Kalyemenya. In our view, the above
passage contains summarised conclusions reached by the
judge after evaluating
the evidence of Dr. Wabinga and that of Dr. Kalyemenya in relation to the
alleged disagreement between the
two doctors on the question of whether or not
it was necessary to send some internal organs for toxicological analysis. Indeed
was during the submissions of defence counsel at the trial when defence
counsel contended that the evidence of Dr. Kalyemenya was
at variance with that
of Dr. Wabinga. Therefore, the judge appears to have found it necessary to
express an opinion on that question.
That is why the learned trial judge raised
for his consideration what in his view was the point of disagreement, having
six points where the evidence of the two doctors was in
agreement. We have already listed the six points of agreement. The judge
set out the opinions of the two doctors relating to what pathologists would do
in case poisoning is suspected and what the opinion
of each of the two doctors
was in respect of their individual findings about whether or not the cause of
the death of the deceased
was poison. It was at that stage that the learned
trial judge made the conclusions set out in the passage quoted above and which,
in Mr. Ayiguhugu's submission, constituted bias or prejudice on the part of the
trial judge. We think that this criticism has no
foundation nor do we agree that
the passage manifests suspicion by the judge that Dr. Kalyemenya had fabricated
the evidence of poisoning.
Nor do we see justification for the criticism by the learned counsel that the
judge was reluctant in his evaluation of the evidence
relating to poisoning. We
think that the trial judge was very much alive to the issue of poisoning and
that he properly evaluated
all the relevant evidence on poisoning and collated
it with other evidence before he ruled out poisoning as the immediate cause of
death. The judge summarised the contentions of both the defence counsel and the
prosecuting State Attorney. The judge was concerned
with and gave careful
consideration to the issue of poisoning because, for example, he stated at some
stage that -
"I find it necessary to scrutinize carefully the prosecution evidence on this
Thereafter the judge evaluated at length the evidence of Nsubuga Emmanuel and
that of Dr. Kalyemenya in relation to the poison and
the effects of poisoning.
The judge related that expert evidence to that of the lay witnesses who visited
the scene and or saw the
body of the deceased and the scene in the house where
the deceased died. These other lay witnesses whose evidence the judge considered
are D/ACP Edward Ocom (PW15), D/Sgt. Mujuni (PW9), D/ASP Emukule (Pwl8). These
non-expert witnesses found no vomit or evidence of
diarrhoea which would
manifest signs that the acaricide poison had reached the terminal or critical
stage in the body of the deceased
and was probably the cause of death. We do not
agree that in making that conclusion the trial judge shifted the burden of proof
We have already reproduced a portion of the judgment of the trial judge where
he ruled out poisoning as the cause of death. For the
sake of clarity we
reproduce the relevant part :
"According to the evidence of the said doctor (Kalyemenya) and Nsubuga
Emmanuel (PW13) death would occur after another six or more
hours. In such an
event it would be possible, in my view, to detect poison in the internal organs
when in actual fact it did not
cause the death of the deceased.
I find that the prosecution evidence does not point to the existence of
any terminal symptoms of poisoning in the case of Renu Joshi.
If the symptoms
preceding death as narrated by Dr. Kalyemenya (PW10) and Nsubuga Emmanuel (PWl3)
did not appear then, I find that
though acaricide was in the deceased's internal
organs it had not reached the level of causing death. I find that the poison was
not the operating and immediate cause of the death of Renu Joshi".
The evaluation of the prosecution and defence evidence as we have pointed out
and the findings embodied in the foregoing passage show
that the learned trial
judge fully considered the issue of poisoning before he ruled out poisoning as
the operating cause of the
death of the deceased. We have observed already that
Dr. Kalyemenya ended his evidence by saying that he was not certain of the cause
We think that on the available evidence, the prosecution had discharged the
burden of proof which satisfied the judge to reach the
conclusions which he
made. Further we are satisfied that the Court of Appeal did re- evaluate the
evidence of Dr. Kalyemenya, Dr.
Wabinga and Nsubuga before it concluded that
"Learned judge was right in finding that though acaricide was found in the
deceased's internal organs it had not reached the level
of causing death and
therefore the poison was not the operating and immediate cause of
We do not, with respect, agree with the contention of Mr. Ayigihugu that the
courts below did not give serious thought to the effect
of poison nor that the
conclusions of the two courts below are contrary to medical evidence.
Mr. Ayigihugu finally contended that the trial judge and the Court of Appeal
misdirected themselves on the evidence when they held
that death was due to
electric burns. Learned counsel conceded that a judge is entitled to accept the
evidence of one witness in
preference to that of another witness but Counsel
criticised the two courts below for relying on the evidence of Dr. Wabinga as to
the cause of death in preference to that of Dr. Kalyemenya and that of Nsubuga.
Counsel referred us to Phipson on Evidence, (supra), Crim. Evidence by
Richard. May, (supra), and vs. Matheson (1958) 2W.L.R.475. Mr.
Byabakama Mugenyi for the respondent made submissions to the contrary and
supported the decisions of the two
Courts below. These arguments have been
considered under ground one.
The passage from Phipson on Evidence (supra) reads as follows:-
"In general, the Court of Appeal (in England) will be unwilling to
interfere with a finding by a trial Judge whereby he preferred
the evidence of
one expert to another, notwithstanding that the demeanour of the expert witness
is not so important for the purpose
of assessing his credibility as it is in the
case of a witness of fact. Nonetheless the court will be prepared to intervene
Judge has clearly erred,
It is thought that the assessment of the cogency of evidence given by
experts who offer competing hypotheses is assisted by a consideration
the conflict lies in the scientific or hypothetical sphere of the evidence.
Where such a conflict occurs in a criminal case
on an issue on which the
prosecution bears the burden of proof, it is not enough for the Jury to be
directed to choose which experts
evidence it prefers; it must be informed
that it must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the prosecution's
expert evidence is correct" (underlining added).
This passage is principally concerned with the discretion of a first Court of
Appeal in England to intervene in a criminal case in
a decision made by jury
following a direction by a trial judge. In our context we can say that the
passage is concerned with the
discretion of the Court of Appeal, or indeed this
Court, to intervene in a decision of the trial judge whose decision is made on
the basis of evidence of one of the two competing experts. It is clear from the
passage quoted above that in order for a first appellate
court to uphold the
decision of a trial judge who relies on the evidence of an expert, in a criminal
trial, the appellate court must
itself be certain that the trial judge was
satisfied that the expert evidence relied upon by that trial judge was the
In the case before us, the learned trial judge considered the expert evidence
of Dr. Kalyemenya, of Dr. Wabinga and of Mr. Nsubuga
and preferred the evidence
of Dr. Wabinga as the correct expert evidence proving the cause of the death of
the deceased. In the passage
we have quoted from his judgment the judge was
satisfied, after considering evidence on three possible causes of death, that
burns and shock were the cause of death. The judge was fully satisfied
with the expert evidence of Dr. Wabinga which the judge preferred
to that of Dr.
Kalyemenya. It must be pointed out again that the evidence of Nsubuga was
inconclusive as to the cause of death and
that of Dr. Kalyemenya was equally
unsatisfactory on the matter of cause of death whereas the evidence of Dr.
Wabinga was clearly
and firmly in support of the prosecution case that the
deceased died from shock due to electric burns. We have not found any other
relevant unchallenged medical evidence on the record firmly supporting the
contention by the appellants' counsel that the
deceased died of anything other
than shock due to electric burns. Nor are we persuaded that either the trial
judge or the Court of
Appeal misdirected themselves on medical evidence or on
the evidence of Mr. Nsubuga as to the cause of death. We think that Dr.
medical opinion established the cause of death.
Mr. Ayigihugu alluded to the prosecution evidence to the effect that there
was beating in the house when the deceased was crying.
We note that in her
evidence, Mrs Twine talked of bangs. It was Ms. Lilian Busingye Twine (PWl) who
referred to beating. There is
evidence that in the morning, Raju, the cook, was
found in the same house lying unconscious in bed with broken limbs. On the facts
available, it is not unreasonable to infer that it was that man, Raju, who was
beaten that night. This is because as stated earlier,
the man (Raju) had been
well at least by 10.00 p.m. that night when he served supper to the
The other authority cited by Mr. Ayigihugu is Criminal Evidence by R. May
(1986) Ed. Pg. 129. The passage referred to relates to the function and the
weight of expert evidence which is admissible as opinion evidence.
We know that
opinions of experts are received as an exception to the general rule that
evidence of opinion is not admissible. The
function of expert evidence is to
assist the court by providing information which is outside the experience and
knowledge of a judge.
It is for the judge to attach what weight he/she can to
the expert evidence. It is the practice that if there is nothing to contradict
the expert's evidence, the judge should accept it. At page 140 of the book by
R. May (supra), the author repeats the view expressed by Phipson
(supra) that where two or more expert witnesses give evidence for opposing
sides, the judge should convict if he/she is satisfied
beyond reasonable doubt
that he/she should accept the expert evidence adduced by the prosecution and
reject that evidence adduced
by the accused if the latter opinion evidence is
not correct. We have looked at the English decision in R. v. Matheson
(supra) and think that that case is distinguishable from the case
before us. Medical evidence which was given on behalf of the accused in
Matheson case that the accused suffered from diminished
responsibility was patently unchallenged by any prosecution evidence. That is
position in the case before us. In the present case, all the expert
witnesses were produced by the prosecution. Moreover, the trial
satisfied that Dr. Wabinga's evidence was conclusive and on that basis convicted
the appellants. The Court of Appeal upheld
the decision. We have not found any
fault in the conclusions of the two courts and their final decisions.
For the foregoing reasons we think that grounds 2 and 3 have no merit and
they both must fail.
Because of the evidence of the first appellant himself the question of his
identification did not arise for consideration.
Ground 4 of the Memorandum of Appeal was abandoned. As a consequence of the
conclusions reached on all the grounds of the appeal of
the first appellant, we
find no merit in his appeal which is accordingly dismissed.
We now turn to the appeal of the second appellant which was argued on his
behalf by Mr. Akampurira. There were three grounds in the
memorandum of appeal
but the third ground was abandoned. Mr. Akampurira argued the remaining two
grounds separately though they are
In the first ground the complaint is that the learned Appellate Justices
erred in law to hold that the evidence of identification
with regard to the
2nd Appellant was not free from the possibility of error. Mr.
Akampurira submitted that both the trial judge and the Court of Appeal
set out the tests which were emphasised by the Uganda Court of Appeal in the
case of Nabulele and Others vs Uganda (1979) HCB76 as relevant
considerations in cases where identification of an accused person is in issue.
Learned counsel submitted
that the two courts failed to apply those tests to the
facts of this case. He referred to the evidence of Mrs. Margaret Twine (PWl4)
who testified that she identified the voices of the two appellants and Counsel
contended that the witness was not familiar with the
voice of A2. Counsel
wondered how Mrs Twine could hear only the voices of the two appellants and yet
there were two other persons
who were in the same house. He submitted that
identification by voice was not possible because, first the talking in the
house was at a distance, and secondly, she was separated by a wall
and thirdly because though the residence of Twine had no covered
that of A1 had a ceiling. He argued that had the Court of Appeal re-evaluated
the evidence properly, that court would
have arrived at different conclusions.
Counsel relied on the case of Nyanzi vs. Uganda, Sup. Court Criminal
Appeal No. 16 of 1998 (unreported) in support of his arguments. On the other
hand, Mr. Byabakama Mugenyi supported
the decisions of the two courts arguing
that Mrs. Twine was familiar with the voices of A1 and A2 and that she was
supported by her
daughter Busingye Twine (PWl) to the extent that she heard two
male voices from the residence of A1 on the night of23rd - 24th
The question of whether A2 did or did not participate in the murder of the
deceased depends partly on whether he was or was not correctly
Mrs. Twine and to some extent it depends on A2's conduct after 4.00 a.m. on the
night of 23rd - 24th Dec, 1997 when he fetched Dr. P.
Patel (PW.5) from the latter's residence. The prosecution evidence against the
2nd Appellant is circumstantial and is primarily that of Mrs. Twine
and A2's subsequent conduct. According to PW14, she was woken up
from sleep in
the dead of night by her husband, Mr. Rurebwa Twine, (PW2), who informed her
that her friend, the deceased, was being
beaten. Mrs Twine got out of bed and
heard the deceased cry out "mummy", "mummy," "mummy". Mrs. Twine then heard
voices which she
believed were of the two appellants talking in hindi language
which she could not understand.
The evidence for A2 is that throughout the day of 23rd December
1997, he together with A1 worked in their shop which is on the opposite side of
the same Martin Road. That between 9.30
and 10.00 p.m. he, Bitu, Babu and
Palinder Kumar (DW1) were in the residence of the deceased eating supper. After
supper, he returned
to the shop to help A1 in the shop which closed slightly
after midnight. A1 went to his residence while A2, Babu and Palinder went
sleep in his (A2's) bedroom which is behind the shop. On the morning of
24/12/97, at 4.00 a.m., A1 phoned A2 and asked the latter
to fetch a doctor to
attend to the deceased who was sick. Eventually A2 collected Dr. Prakash Patel
(PW5) and drove him to A1's residence
where Dr. Patel examined the deceased and
pronounced her dead. In other words the appellant set up an alibi which can be
into the statement that he was away and does not know how the deceased
met her death. He is supported in this by Palinder Kumar (DW1).
We shall revert
to the question of alibi later. We are now concerned with A2's identification in
relation to the killing of the deceased.
We would like to state what this Court and other courts have said about
conviction of an accused person on the basis of circumstantial
evidence. In a
case depending exclusively upon circumstantial evidence, a court must, before
deciding on a conviction, find that
the inculpatory facts are incompatible with
the innocence of the accused, and incapable of explanation upon any other
than that of guilt: See Simoni Musoke Vs. R (1958) EA. 715. In
other words the guilt of the accused must be proved beyond reasonable
In his unsworn evidence, A2 denied ever talking to Mrs. Twine face to face.
In other words he claimed that Mrs. Twine has never heard
him talking. Further,
A2 alleged that Mrs. Twine implicated him in the murder because the Twine family
and the two appellants were
competing for the purchase of the building where A1
and the Twines live. This last point cannot be the motive why Mrs. Twine gave
evidence against the two appellants. In our view the serious point at this stage
is the claim that Mrs. Twine could not recognize
his (A2's) voice because she
had not been meeting him or talking to him.
It can be said that in modern living in urban centres, life is full of bustle
and hustle and that generally neighbours who are not
of the same race or culture
may not regularly talk to each other. This is possible even where they have
residences under the same
building separated by a common wall as is the case of
A1 and the Twines and to some extent the evidence of Mrs. Twine supports
During cross-examination by Mr. Mubiru-Nsubuga, Mrs. Twine stated -
"I do not know where Kumar used to sleep.
I knew Raju
and Bitu were staying in Kuki's house. The people whom I did not know where they
were staying were Kumar, Babu and Palinda.
I did not know if those people use to
eat food at Kuki's house. I do not know where they had their super on
When Mr. Twine touched me I woke up I did not know the time.
I heard distant
voices. For the six years I have stayed with them I could tell it was Kuki
and Kumar talking. The cry of "mummy, "mummy", was not
loud. They were very
Here, Mrs. Twine shows that she did not know all details about Kooky's
household, but she knew the voices of the appellants and the
people who lived in
Kooky's house. She certainly suggests that A2 lived elsewhere. So could
he (A2) be assumed to have been in Kooky's house after mid-night on the fateful
Again during cross-examination by Mr. Kasule, Mrs. Twine's answers
part are as follows:-
"Me I am telling you the truth. I have never held any long
conversation with either Kuki or Kumar. I confirm that there were many
people in Kuki's house. I have had opportunity to know the voices of KUKI and
KUMAR when they are in the house I hear them talking. We share the hind yard.
When the sewerage is blocked they come to unblock it and I hear them talking. I
do not talk to them but I hear them talking".
Here Mrs. Twine did not clearly disprove the claim by the second
appellant that she has never had face to face discussion with him. This appears
to raise the possibility of mistaken identity by voice in so far as A2 is
concerned. Moreover, Mrs Twine stated that the appellants spoke a
language she could not understand and that she did not understand what the
saying. In our view, although it is not necessary for a witness
to understand or be literate in a language being spoken in order to
identify the speaker with whose voice she is already familiar,
identification becomes a crucial issue if the identifying witness is
physically see the speaker whose voice she claims to identify. This is the
problem we see in this appeal; for unlike A1
who admitted being at the scene at
the material time, A2 denied being present. Therefore it was necessary for the
trial court to
consider the identification of A2 by Mrs. Twine with greatest
care and caution.
We note that the version of Dr. Patel (PW5) of what transpired at his home
when A2 called on him differs from the version given by
A2 himself. There is
evidence that when A2 went to Dr. P. Patel's (PW5's) home, he was unsteady,
panicky and frightened. He did not
tell the doctor what had happened to the
deceased. Mr. Byabakama-Mugenyi urged us to infer that A2 told lies to Dr. Patel
because of those lies and his unsteady conduct, A2 was not
We would point out that different people behave differently in moments of
crisis. Whilst the panicky behaviour of A2 may suggest that
he knew what had
happened to the deceased, there is no evidence on the record to support a firm
conclusion that his conduct was incapable
of innocent explanation. So whilst
there is strong suspicion that A2 might have known more about what happened to
the deceased, suspicion
alone is not enough in a criminal trial to conclude that
the second appellant was properly identified as having participated in the
murder of the deceased. Ground one must therefore succeed. This conclusion would
dispose of the appeal of the second appellant. We
would however briefly consider
The complaint in ground 2 of appeal, by the second appellant, is that the
learned Justices of Appeal erred in law in rejecting the
defence of alibi
without proper evaluation of evidence in support of it. Mr. Akampurira relied on
the statements in court of the
two appellants and their charge and caution
statements as well as on the evidence of P. Kumar (DW1) and Dr. Patel. The
that evidence is to the effect that soon after midnight, A2, Kumar
Palinder and Babu retired into their bedroom which is at the back
of the shop.
That A2 did not go to the scene of crime till about 5.00 a.m. when he and Dr.
Patel drove there and upon examination
of the deceased Dr. Patel pronounced her
dead. The evidence implicating A2 is that of Mrs. Twine on identification and
which we have
Mr. Akampurira submitted that both the trial judge and Court of Appeal did
not take into account the evidence of the eye witness
Palinder Kumar (DW1) on
the alibi. He criticised the Court of Appeal for its failure to re-evaluate the
evidence on alibi. Counsel
referred to this Court's decision in Nyanzi case
(supra) in support. He contended that had the two courts considered the
evidence of Palinder Kumar, those courts would have concluded
prosecution did not prove the case against the second appellant beyond
reasonable doubt. For the Respondent, Mr. Byabakama-Mugenyi
Mrs. Twine's evidence placed the second appellant at the scene of crime. That
she was familiar with the voice of the
second appellant. Counsel further argued
that the conduct of A2 when he went to call, and when he talked to, Dr. P. Patel
not consistent with his innocence in as much as he did not give a true
account that the deceased was dead. Counsel contended that
by the time A2 went
to Dr. P. Patel residence, A2 must have known that the deceased had been killed
and should have said so to the
We have already discussed submissions on the conduct of A2 when he reached
the home of Dr. Patel (PW5) .
The charge and caution statement of A2 says in effect that A2 did not know
the cause of the death of the deceased and that during
the material time he was
sleeping in the shop until 4.00 a.m. when A1 called him. Palinder Kumar (DW1)
In his judgement, the trial judge referred to the evidence of alibi and to
the cases of R vs Eria Sebwato (1960) EA 174, Nabulele & Another
Uganda (supra) and other cases before he ruled out any
possibility of mistake in the identification of A2 by Mrs Twine and therefore
The judge referred to A2's defence of alibi and the relevant law in these
"Davinder Kumar (A2) set up a defence of alibi. The law is that there is
no burden of proof on an accused person who puts forward
an alibi as his
defence. He merely has to raise it. The burden of proof lies on the prosecution
to adduce evidence to destroy the
alibi by placing the accused person at the
scene of the crime. The court has to weigh the defence of alibi with the rest of
on the record. If the prosecution adduces evidence which puts an
accused person at the scene of crime at the material time then his
alibi must be
false and must be rejected: See Woolmington Vs. DPP (1935) AC462;
Seketoleko Vs Uganda (1967) EA 531, and Kyadondo Vs. Uganda Court
of Appeal of Uganda, Crim. Appeal No. 18/96 (unreported). The alibi raised by
Davinder Kumar (A2) has not created any doubts in my mind. Nor did it create any
doubts in the mind of lady assessor
Mrs. Ronah Kakaire. I believe the
prosecution witness (sic) and I find their evidence consistent and credible. The
prosecution evidence placed both Sharma
Kooky (A1) and Davinder Kumar (A2) at
the scene of crime, namely in the house of Kooky Sharma (A1) at plot 43 Martin
Road in the
night of the 23rd/24th December, 1997. So I do
not believe the alibi of Davinder Kumar (A2) and I reject it".
In our view this passage shows that the trial Judge correctly appreciated the
law on the burden of proof in regard to alibi. But we
think that the learned
Judge did not adequately evaluate the evidence of the defence of alibi. The
judge misdirected himself when
he stated that "the alibi raised by A2 has not
created any doubt in my mind. Nor did it create any doubt in the mind of the
It was the duty of the prosecution to disprove the alibi. In the passage
quoted above, the judge appears to suggest that the second
appellant should have
proved the alibi so as to raise a doubt in his mind. Further more we have
studied the record and noted that
P. Kumar (DW1) in his evidence supported the
story of the second appellant up to the time A2 went to fetch Dr. Patel. The
judge did not, in our view, and with due respect, evaluate Kumar's
The Court of Appeal alluded to the law relating to a single identifying
witness and to the law on the burden of proof in respect of
a defence of alibi.
The court referred to the defence of alibi as follows:-
"The evidence of the second appellant is corroborated by DW1, but he also did
not indicate when he returned to the shop after dinner.
The second appellant by his charge and caution statement and his evidence
in court has placed himself in the house of the first appellant.
supported by the evidence of DW1. The evidence of PWl4 had placed him at the
scene when the deceased was heard crying. Therefore
his claim that he was not in
the house of the first appellant at the time the deceased was heard crying
cannot be true. The learned
trial Judge was therefore right to reject his
We have had occasion to state that where an accused denies a charge and puts
up the defence of an libi and calls evidence to support
that alibi both the
trial judge and the Court of Appeal, as a first appellate court, should
adequately evaluate the evidence of alibi
along side the rest of the evidence in
the case before rejecting the alibi: See Bogere Moses vs. Uganda (sup.ct.
Cr.Appeal, of 1997) and Kagunda F. vs. Uganda Sup. Ct. Cr. Appeal 14 of
1998 (unreported). We are not satisfied, and we say this with respect, that both
the learned trial judge
and the Court of Appeal sufficiently evaluated the
evidence of P. Kumar which supported the alibi of the second appellant.
It is incorrect to say that A2's charge and caution statement placed A2 in
A1's house. The fact that A2 had meals in A1's house is
indisputable. What the
prosecution had to prove was the presence of A2 in the house at the time the
injuries found on the body of
the deceased and caused her death were inflicted.
In our view the prosecution evidence did not establish this. On the other hand
the evidence of Palinder Kumar (DW2) tends to corroborate the story of A2 that
from 10.00 p.m. up to 4.00 a.m., A2 was not at the
scene of crime. Palinder
Kumar does not seem to have been shaken in his evidence. He might have been
mistaken about time but there
is nothing to suggest that what he stated about
A2's whereabouts is false. In a criminal a trial, it is the duty of the
to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. We are
not satisfied that in this case the guilt of A2 has been so proved.
In view of the evidence of A2 in that regard, we think that the prosecution
failed to discharge the burden of disproving the alibi.
So ground two must
This means that the appeal of the second appellant must succeed.
Before leaving this case, there are two matters on which we wish to comment.
The two matters relate to procedure. First, for the avoidance
of doubt, we would
like to endorse the view expressed by the Court of Appeal that since the
appellants had chosen not to give sworn
evidence it was absolutely wrong for the
trial judge to allow the appellants to be led by their counsel throughout the
their unsworn statements.
All the three counsel who defended the appellants were senior advocates and,
therefore, we are rather perturbed that they went to
great lengths to mislead
the trial judge by insisting on leading each accused in his unsworn statement.
Counsel on both sides are
under a duty to ensure that proper procedure in
conducting a criminal trial is followed in adducing evidence by both sides so
not only justice is done but is seen to be done.
Secondly we noted too many objections were raised during the trial. In the
process, the trial judge was bogged down by adjourning
the hearing in order to
write rulings. The objections and adjournments contributed greatly to the delay
in concluding the trial of
this case. Such practice must be discouraged by trial
We conclude. The appeal of the first appellant is dismissed. The appeal of
the second appellant succeeds. His conviction is quashed
and the sentence of
death is set aside. Unless he is held on some other lawful charge, A2 must be
set free forthwith.
Delivered at Mengo this 15th day of April 2002.
B. J. ODOKI.
A. H. O. ODER.
JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT.
J. W. N. TSEKOOKO.
JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT.
A. N. KAROKORA.
JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME
G. W. KANYEIHAMBA
JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT.