THE Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam has advised the prosecution to observe law and consider human rights when prosecuting people with different criminal charges.
Principal Resident Magistrate Huruma Shaidi gave such piece of advice when considering submissions presented by counsel for businessmen Harbinder Sethi and James Rugemalira and Advocate Joseph Makandege, who are facing 350bn/- economic trial. “We are all civil servants, each serving a certain position. You are here today, you never know where will you be tomorrow,” the magistrate told Senior State Attorney Wankyo Simon, for the prosecution.
He added, “We are all human beings. Everyone should be prosecuted with respect and in accordance with human rights. We cannot proceed without knowing what will be the outcome. It is not fair.”
The magistrate adjourned the trial to May 6, 2021, but directed the prosecution to take seriously the concerns raised by the accused persons over inordinate delay of investigations and the failure by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to respond to their request for plea bargaining agreement.
He recalled that the failure by the prosecution to complete the investigations within reasonable time led two of the accused persons, Sethi and Makandege, to write to the DPP to have the trial summarily disposed off through plea bargaining arrangement.
According to him, the accused persons followed the required procedure as provided for under the law, but the prosecution has not come clearly on their position. “We cannot remain in a position where there is no answer,” the magistrate said.
Before adjourning the matter, the defence team comprising Advocates Dolla Malaba, Joseph Sungwa, Alex Balomi, Juma Chuma and Kungi Wabeya requested the court to dismiss the charges and set free the accused persons for prosecution’s failure to complete the investigations.
They objected to the prayer by the prosecution for the court to grant further adjournment of the trial, submitting forcefully that no special reason has been advanced to support the request, considering that the accused people have remained in remand for almost five years now.
The advocates cited some previous cases decided by the Court of Appeal to support their position that the court has inherent powers to control proceedings including dismissing the charges though the case involving their clients was under committal stage. On the plea bargaining question, the lawyers recalled the court to have given the parties 30 days in February 2021 within which to conclude the negotiations.
They submitted that such time given expired and the court granted an extension of 15 days, but the prosecution has remained silent. According to them, there must be compliance to the orders of the court, failure of which attracts some consequences including closing such chapter with an order to have the prosecution close the investigation so that the case could proceeding to the hearing stage.