Sharma & Another v. Uganda

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The appellants are brothers appealing their conviction for the murder of wife of the first appellant, Kooky Sharma. The first Appellant and the deceased lived in a two-family building. On the night of the murder, their neighbors heard two male voices and a woman crying “for a long time” inside the first appellant’s home. The next day, the local council chairman learned of the victim’s death and visited the home. The first appellant told him that the victim died of malaria. The chairman was not satisfied with the explanation, noting that the victim’s clothing covered her entire body except for her face, and he prevented the first Appellant from immediately cremating the victim. After the police examined the deceased’s body and found bruising, they opened a murder investigation and returned to search the first Appellant’s home. There they found the male household cook lying unconscious in bed and badly beaten. The police brought him to the hospital for treatment, but he disappeared by the time they returned to question him two days later and remained missing throughout the subsequent investigation and trial. Medical examinations of the deceased conflicted with each other. One medical examination of found bruising from electrical or acid burns and organ damage. It found that the cause of death was “shock due to electrical burns with blunt injury. Poison could not be ruled out.” In another examination, the Senior Government Chemist found acaricide poison in the deceased’s liver, spleen, kidneys, and brain. The appellants appeal based on the discrepancies in the medical opinions regarding the cause of death. The Court, explaining that judges may accept the evidence of one witness over another, held that the discrepancy was due to one doctor’s lack of experience and that the findings of the more experienced physician were reliable. In addition, the second appellant, the deceased’s brother-in-law, also argued that the identification that led to his conviction was faulty and that the trial court failed to properly consider his alibi. The Supreme Court found that the lower courts’ analysis seemed to require that the second appellant prove his alibi rather than require that the prosecution disprove it and so upheld the second appellant’s appeal. The Court also expressed two grievances about the proceedings at the trial court. The Court’s first complaint was that the defendants did not give sworn testimony but improperly were allowed to make unsworn statements guided by their attorneys. The Court also reprimanded the attorneys for raising too many objections during trial and bogging down the proceedings.

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