The Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala has set free Peace Mirembe after she was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for bribing a police officer to release her parents on police bond.
Justice Lawrence Gidudu on Monday acquitted Mirembe after establishing that the 2 million Shillings bribe allegedly given to Francis Liiga, the OC station of Isingiro Central Police Station was missing since it was not exhibited by the Prosecution.
It all started on March 1st, 2021 when Mirembe ‘s parents were charged with murder and detained at Isingiro Police Station in 2021.
It is alleged that when Mirembe visited her parents, she talked to Liiga, through an interpreter and allegedly offered a 2 million shillings bribe to help facilitate the release of her parents on bond who were facing charges of murder.
Court heard that Liiga declined the offer saying he doesn’t encourage bribery.
However, as Mirembe was getting out of the office, she was called back but refused. She was then arrested from a nearby restaurant and charged with offering a bribe of 2 million shillings. This was after the police officers checked her bag and found that there was 3.5 million shillings.
Mirembe was charged and convicted by Grade One Magistrate Esther Asiimwe before being sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment on July 3rd, 2023.
Dissatisfied with the decision, Mirembe appealed before the High Court through a lawyer, Latif Wakiku. However, the court rejected him after it was discovered that he was not a qualified advocate. Mirembe decided to continue with her appeal and represented herself.
In her appeal, she said the learned trial magistrate erred in law and fact when she failed to evaluate the defense evidence vis-a-vis that of the prosecution thereby coming to a wrong conclusion.
She also faulted the trial Magistrate for having convicted her based on uncorroborated evidence thus causing a miscarriage of justice to her.
On Monday, Justice Gidudu ruled that the Prosecution witnesses knew nothing about investigations in the case but were acting on instructions of Liiga.
“They only acted on Prosecution Witness 1/Liiga’s instructions. They knew nothing about the investigation done to confirm PW1’s allegations that the appellant offered him a bribe”, said Gidudu.
Gidudu said the conduct of Liiga was raising many questions regarding the circumstances of the case.
“If indeed the appellant offered PW1/Liiga a bribe in his office, why did he allow her to move out? Why didn’t PW1 allow the appellant to pull out the bribe and arrest her red-handed? Why did he follow her out and cause her arrest before confirming that she had money? Supposing the search yielded no money? If indeed PW 1 declined to receive a bribe from UGX. 2,000,000=, why did he attempt to steal UGX 200,000= from the appellant?”, said Gidudu.
He added that these questions put into doubt the allegations made by Liiga.
“He was a senior police officer who should have allowed the appellant to pull out the money from her bag, count it, and place it on the table before arresting her in the presence of her interpreter. That would be the natural expectation of the conduct of a police officer. The fact that the interpreter is out of the picture yet he is the one that communicated the bribery offer renders PW 1 ‘s evidence suspect in regard to the actus reus(guilty mind.”
Gidudu ordered the immediate release of Mirembe and quashed her earlier conviction.