Court orders release  of suspected arsonist

Court orders release of suspected arsonist

THE High Court, Dar es Salaam District Registry, has ordered the immediate release from prison of a resident of Bagamoyo District, Nasibu Bakari, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for setting three houses on fire.

Judge Augustine Rwizile ruled in favour of Bakari, alias Bushiri, the appellant, after allowing his appeal he had lodged to fault the findings of the District Court of Bagamoyo at Msoga in Coast Region.

“I hold that the case was not proved to the standard required. I therefore, quash the conviction and set aside the sentence. I further order the immediate release of the appellant unless held for some other lawful cause,” he declared.

During hearing of the appeal, the judge noted that the prosecution had called at the trial six witnesses, including a person who was an eyewitness to the incident in an attempt to prove the charges against the appellant.

According to him, the rest of the witnesses could not witness the fire incident as they were not present at the scene of the crime. He said that it was only that person who saw and arrested the appellant when setting fire to one of the houses.

“But what I find strange is that, when the appellant was arrested by (that person) who said was assisted by his seven dogs, the victim was not aware of that, despite the whole scenery allegedly happening at the victim’s house,” the judge said.

Despite all that, the judge pointed out that the victim of the fire incident said he heard his children crying and when he woke up he saw his house burning but he never saw the appellant at the scene and that he was told about the appellant by the local government leader.

“Did the dogs assist him arrest the appellant silently or is it possible that seven dogs which assisted him did not bark at the appellant when helping arrest him? But (this witness) is silent on this. This brings doubt if at all the appellant was arrested at the scene of the crime, or was just a random arrest,” he said.

Another suspicion the judge pointed out was the fact that the appellant was said to have set fire on three different houses on the same mid night of the same day. He said that the distance between the houses was not known and the question of how a person could set fire on three different houses at exactly the same time could not be easily answered.

“It is my view that proving the case beyond any doubt means adducing all important and reasonable evidence to satisfy the court that the offence was truly committed. I agree with the appellant that prosecution ought to have brought at the trial some other evidence,” the judge said.

Furthermore, Judge Rwizile ruled that the prosecution failed to call Hamlet Chairman (local government leader), Seleman Bigo, who was the first person called at the crime scene. He considered that the local leader could be an important witness since he was the leader of the said village but also was the one who ordered for the appellant to be searched.

“It is my view that he could have been a perfect witness to verify that it was indeed true that the appellant was found at the scene with a box of matches that was perhaps used to set on fire the houses,” the judge said.

He came to the conclusion that the testimony of the eye witness was not corroborated by any evidence of other witnesses since the rest of them said they were told that the appellant was the one who set fire on the houses at their village and since dogs cannot speak.

“This reminds me of an African saying, that a person planning to tell lies, will always say, I was with my dog. In my considered view, circumstances leading to this case, and the time it is alleged happened, would demand for more direct evidence than what the prosecution procured,” the judge said.

It was alleged that on March 30, 2018 around 01.00hrs, the appellant set three houses on fire, by which one among them was the house of one Ramadhan Yusuph. After a full trial, he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. This decision did not please him and appealed to the High Court.

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