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Missouri prosecutor declines charges in Ferguson teen’s death | USA News

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The top prosecutor in St Louis County, Missouri announced Thursday that he will not charge the former police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri – a dramatic decision that could reopen old wounds amid a renewed and intense national conversation about racial injustice and the police treatment of minorities in the United States.

It was nearly six years ago that a grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot Brown, a Black 18-year-old. Civil rights leaders and Brown’s mother had hoped that Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell, the county’s first Black prosecutor, would reopen the case after he took office in January 2019.

“My heart breaks” for Michael’s parents, Bell said during a news conference. “I know this is not the result they were looking for and that their pain will continue forever.”

Describing the announcement as “one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do”, Bell said that his office conducted a five-month review of witness statements, forensic reports and other evidence.

“The question for this office was a simple one: Could we prove beyond a reasonable doubt that when Darren Wilson shot Micheal Brown, he committed murder or manslaughter under Missouri law? After an independent and in-depth review of the evidence, we cannot prove that he did,” Bell said.

But, he said, “our investigation does not exonerate Darren Wilson”.

The August 2014 police shooting touched off months of unrest in Ferguson, and made the St Louis suburb synonymous with a national debate over police treatment of minorities. The Ferguson unrest helped solidify the national Black Lives Matter movement that began after Trayvon Martin, a Black 17-year-old, was shot to death in Florida in 2012.

The issue has taken on new life since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in May. Ferguson is among many cities around the world that have seen protests since Floyd’s death.

“This is a time for us to reflect on Michael’s life, to support Michael’s family and to honour a transformative movement that will forever be linked to his name,” Bell said.

Bell – who took office in January 2019 as a reform-minded prosecutor promising to eliminate cash bail for non-violent offenders and to increase the use of programmes that allow defendants to avoid jail time – faced no restrictions in reexamining Brown’s death for potential murder charges. Wilson was never charged and tried, so double jeopardy was not an issue. There is no statute of limitations on filing murder charges.

As the news conference drew to a close, one observer erupted in anger at Bell.

“It’s over! One term!” the man, who did not provide a name, screamed as the prosecuting attorney. Police officers gently led the man from the room.

The shooting happened after Wilson told Brown and a friend to get out of the street as they walked down the middle of Canfield Drive on a Sunday afternoon. A scuffle between Wilson and Brown ensued, ending with the fatal shot. Wilson said Brown came at him menacingly, forcing him to fire his gun in self-defence.

Brown’s body remained in the street for four hours, angering his family and nearby residents. Some people initially said Brown had his hands up in surrender when Wilson fired, although a grand jury and the US Department of Justice did not find those accounts credible.

Bell’s predecessor, longtime prosecutor Bob McCulloch, drew considerable criticism for taking the case to a grand jury rather than charging Wilson himself. Critics also accused McCulloch of swaying the grand jury to its decision not to indict Wilson – an accusation he emphatically denied. Wilson resigned days after McCulloch’s November 24, 2014 announcement that the grand jury would not indict the officer.

The Justice Department also declined to charge Wilson, but issued a scathing report citing racial bias in Ferguson’s police and courts.

Bell, a former Ferguson councilman, upset McCulloch, a staunch law-and-order prosecutor, in the 2018 Democratic primary and ran unopposed that November. Within days of taking office, Bell took steps to remove three veteran assistant prosecutors, including Kathi Alizadeh, who played a role in presenting evidence to the grand jury in the Ferguson case.

In his campaign to unseat McCulloch, Bell focused on larger criminal justice issues, not on McCulloch’s handling of the Wilson investigation.

A year after Ferguson: Residents remember Brown’s death (2:28)

Bell, who, like McCulloch, is the son of a police officer, said in an interview after the election that he would appoint independent special prosecutors for allegations of wrongdoing by officers. He said he would support police “200 percent” as long as they act appropriately. But he said officers who violate the law must be held accountable.

Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, asked Missouri Republican Governor Mike Parson to reopen the investigation in 2018, saying Bell’s win was “a clear mandate from the people of St Louis to reform the criminal justice system, which first begins with securing justice for my son”. But Parson’s office said it had no legal authority to appoint a special prosecutor.

Calls to reopen the Brown investigation also came from Justin Hansford, executive director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center. In an August 2019 Washington Post opinion article, he called McCulloch’s ouster “a sign of hope and change”.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema

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When court sat on Friday to hear the Kiggundu’s application to stop independent audit, he did not have a written application, and Justice Henry Adonyo instead ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer Fred Muwema to go make a written application seeking court to dismiss the audit and return to court on September 30 for a hearing of the application. But this adds more pressure on Kiggundu who is choking with the loans.

On 31 August, the judge ordered the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to carry out and independent audit into the accounts of the businessman and financial statements exchanged between the two parties, and present a report to court.

When asked by journalists why he has filed for an application seeking dismissal of the audit, Fred Muwema had this to say. “We are saying that let the validity and legality of those credit facilities (loans) be decided first before you can audit” He said.

The ruling on the application of the main suit to determine whether the businessman owes loan arrears to the bank is set for 5th October 2020, after which a date for hearing of the case will be set.

Background

Hamis Kiggundu through his companies Ham enterprises and Kiggs International (U) ltd sued DTB branches in Kenya and Uganda for deducting money from his accounts something which the bank contends and said they only acted as per the loan agreement of deducting 30% from Kiggundu’s accounts to recover the credit facilities rendered to him between February 2011 and September 2016

But Court documents filed by the bank in their defense shows that Kiggundu, between February 2011 and September 2016, was granted various credit facilities by the said DTB Banks.

First, via Ham Enterprises Limited, Kiggundu obtained a loan of $6,663,453 and another Sh2.5bn from the DTB (U) to finance his projects in the real estate business.

Later, according to New Vision, he got a facility worth $4.5m through Kiggs International (U) Limited from DTB (K) and mortgaged his properties, which include Plot 328 located at Kawuku on Block 248 Kyadondo, three plots that include 36, 37 and 38 on Folio 1533 Victoria Crescent II situated in Kyadondo and land on Makerere Hill Road on LRV 3716 Folio 10 Plot 923 Block 9.

Documents show that as of January 21, 2020, Kiggundu was in default on payment obligations of $6.298m on the loan facility of $6.663m, as well as sh2.885b on the demand overdraft facility of sh1.5b and the temporary demand overdraft facility of sh1b.

The banks say that Kiggundu was in default on the payment of another $3.662m out of a total loan facility of $4m and another $458,604 on a loan facility of $500,000, as of January 21, 2020.

The DTB consequently served him with a demand notice to either pay up or lose the assets that he submitted as collateral security. The bank threatened to attach a plot on Makerere Hill Road and other prime commercial properties.

Analysts says that Kiggundu’s lawyer is playing delaying tactics aimed at stopping the independent audit as ordered by the court earlier. Kiggundu had wanted court to believe his own audit of loan transactions, but that would amount to injustice to the banks that gave him money-DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded

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The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      





Source – observer.ug

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19

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Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  





Source – observer.ug

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