Uganda’s judiciary says it is unfair to blame courts for the death of lawyer Bob Kasango despite the record clearly stating judges denied him bail to seek treatment for heart complications abroad.
Kasango succumbed to heart failure Murchison Bay Luzira Prison at the weekend.
By the time of his demise, he was serving a 16-year sentence after The Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court convicted him of conspiracy to commit a felony, conspiracy to defraud, forgery of judicial documents and theft over the loss of Shs15.4bn pension money.
His sentence started in December 2018 after two years of trial.
According to Kasango’s wife Nice Bitarabeho, the lawyer had suffered heart complications four years before his conviction.
“He was diagnosed with a heart problem in 2014 and this could only be handled through an operation as recommended by doctors,” Bitarabeho told mourners at All Saints Church in Kampala during her husband’s requiem mass.
“He usually passed out. [For example] in 2018, he collapsed and was rushed to Nakasero Hospital where he spent five days in the Intensive Care Unit and for all these days, his heart had stopped beating.”
Court insisted Prisons and other Ugandan doctors could handle Kasango’s condition.
But Bitarabeho explained that “it is not that Ugandan doctors didn’t have expertise to carry out the required surgery but it is the post-surgery support that he needed abroad.”
Yet court denied him bail. Twice.
“It is also important to note that Kasango had applied for bail pending appeal before a single judge, but his application was unsuccessful, and the court gave reasons,” the judiciary admitted.
“He appealed the decision before a panel of three justices, but it was equally unsuccessful, and the reasons were given.”
Kasango’s friend Andrew Mwenda expressed his frustration with the judiciary.
“We had organized for him to fly out of the country for treatment but the judiciary and DPP objected to the bail. I don’t understand how our judiciary system works,” Mwenda complained.
It should also be remembered that Kasango had appealed his conviction.
“He appealed to the Court of Appeal against the convictions and sentences – he, unfortunately, passed on before the court could deliver its decision in the matter,” the judiciary further noted.
In its defence, the judiciary further argues that it is “wrong for anyone to impute any wrongdoing on the part of the court, let alone suggesting that the court had anything to do with his eventual death.”
“His demise is regrettable, and the Judiciary commiserates with his family and friends,” a statement from the judiciary read.
“We would, however, like to correct the wrong impression being created that the court had any connection with Kasango’s sudden death. Court only dispensed its duty.”