The trial of four Chinese nationals accused of escaping from quarantine aborted prematurely in Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday afternoon when the translator decided to storm out of court before the conclusion of the matter.
Chinese national, Michael Zhong, who was helping with the translation as a volunteer, stormed out of the court when the Chief Magistrate, Ruth Nabaasa tried to guide him to act professionally. All was well until when Ding Ling, one of the four Chinese nationals was charged separately with attempted murder.
Prosecution heard that Ling attempted to murder a one Machemo, a few weeks ago at Spin Ridar Cassino Hotel on First Street Industrial Area in Kampala. Court through Zhong asked Ding on what he had to say in regards to the offense. He pleaded not guilty, saying his knife accidentally cut Machemo’s arm as he was trying to rescue him as he was feuding with his colleague.
Zhong tried to interpret what Ding had said in a manner that raised the Magistrate’s suspicion. She cautioned him to do his work professionally. This didn’t go down well with Zhong who decided to throw away the court documents and walked away, saying he wasn’t a prisoner. He argued that there was no need for the magistrate to order him around since he was only acting as a volunteer.
He jumped in the vehicle belonging to Charles Twine, the Spokesperson of the Criminal Investigations Directorate and was driven to his home in Naguru. Zhong’s protest compelled the Chief Magistrate, Ruth Nabaasa to remand the suspects to Kitalya Government prison until May 4th when the court will find another interpreter.
The other suspects are Huang Hai Guaing, Li Chaochyan, Qin Shening, Liang Xing Ning and their Ugandan counterpart, Abdu Matovu and Swabu Nassuna. Earlier on the State Prosecutor, Annet Namatovu told court that the suspects the Chinese nationals arrived in Uganda via Addis Ababa on March 10th. She said the suspects were subjected to the mandatory 14 day self-quarantine at Kibuli Hotel Africa.
Namatovu however, explained before completing the quarantine period as directed by President, Yoweri Museveni, the suspects escaped from the Hotel using a Toyota Noah registration UBB 809K that was being driven by the two Ugandans on their way to the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.
However, the group was intercepted in Zombo District and was subjected to Covid19 tests. Two of their colleagues who were not in court tested positive for covid19. The remaining suspects were charged with doing a negligent act likely to spread the disease, disobedience of lawful orders and conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor.
On Tuesday, the suspects pleaded guilty to the offense of disobedience of lawful order and were subsequently convicted upon their own plea of guilty. However, they couldn’t be sentenced owing to the absence of a translator.