Makindye Chief Magistrates Court has dismissed the case in which Events Promoter Abbey Musigunzi commonly known as Abitex was accused of negligence which resulted in the death of eleven people at Freedom City Namasuba during the 2023 New Year Celebrations.
The 13 charges were on Thursday dismissed by Grade One Magistrate Igga Adiru on grounds that the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has failed to produce any single witness before the court to testify against Abitex and his co-accused Elvis Francis Juuko the Master of Ceremonies (MC)
According to the prosecution Abitex, Jjuuko, and others still large did a rush and neglect act by closing other outlets and leaving only one small gate which could not safely allow more than 20, 000 people to easily get out.
The Prosecution added that during the scuffle as people struggled to enter the hall after watching fireworks, eleven people including children lost their lives and two others were badly injured.
The deceased include Margaret Nakatumba, Hadija Nakakande, Mary Namyalo, Ibrahim Kizito, Hakimati Hazama, Shafiq Mwanje, Viola Nakanwagi, and siblings Daniel Kibuuka and Kibuuka Daniella.
Abitex and Jjuuko were arrested by police sent to Luzira Prison on remand and given bail, and kept reporting to court as they maintained their innocence. However, the Prosecution has not been bringing witnesses to testify against the suspects.
When the case came up for mention on Thursday, Iga decided to dismiss the charges against the duo and advised that the DPP can any time re-instate the case if she is ready with witnesses.
The dismissal followed a request by the lawyer representing accused persons Musa Matovu from Lukwago and Company Advocates who said that the Prosecution had been dilly-dallying and not ready to produce evidence against their clients.
He noted that for instance the public has since lost trust in Abitex saying that doesn’t have the capacity to organize a peaceful event attracting large numbers of people.
Matovu said they had lost businesses and in any event, they should have held the area District Police Commander, owner of the building, and the private security company that was at the place accountable but not the organizers.
Matovu told Uganda Radio Network that he is waiting for further instructions from the clients to see if he should institute a civil case demanding compensation.
Preliminary police findings had revealed that more than 500 revelers were attending the concert named ‘party after party’ which was organized by Abitex promotions. But a stampede followed after the Master of Ceremony reportedly asked the packed crowd to move out to witness the fireworks display at the parking yard.
According to the Police, the crowd went wild forcing their way through a narrow passage into the parking yard yet four other exit routes were locked by the organizers to keep away non-ticketed partygoers or intruders. several revelers were then trapped and trampled upon through the narrow corridor.