COMMENTARY: David Kato's killer convicted, but Ugandan trial was a sham

Justice Joseph Mulangira of Uganda's Mukono High Court has sentenced Sidney Nsubuga Enoch, 22, the man who confessed to the murder of gay rights activist David Kato, to 30 years in prison.

David Kato was a local and international gay rights activist. His face appeared as one of the hundred outed gay men by Uganda's Rolling Stone tabloid, with the headline "100 Pictures of Uganda's top Homos." Against all odds, Kato won his case in the Uganda courts, against the publishers of the tabloid, where his face appeared next to a headline "Hang Them!"

In February of this year, some months thereafter, Kato was brutally murdered in his home, not long after declaring that he feared for his life.
The Ugandan authorities arrested and convicted the confessed killer, but his story makes no sense. The authorities have done nothing to pursue the truth -- the real motive, other than to believe the story of a confessed killer who thought that if he inserted that Kato had made a demand for homosexual sex into his story, he would receive leniency.

However, I have reason to believe that the killer was set up to murder Kato for being gay and that he thought if he established a homosexual sex demand, he would be treated leniently and perhaps even as a hero himself.

The story advanced by the prosecutor at sentencing has done little more than to perpetuate the myth that gays are trying to recruit straight people into homosexuality; it feeds into the lie that children and Ugandan society are in grave danger unless homosexuality is criminalized, with harsh penalties for the so-called behavior. Uganda’s Parliament continues its internationally condemned effort to pass the draconian “Kill The Gays” bill.

Whether one considers the sentence of 30 years light or not, the bottom line is that a great hero, who may well have been murdered for his cause, has yet to see justice; not until the truth is told.

The prosecution led by Loe Karungi argued that on Jan. 26, 2011, at around 8:30 am, while Kato and Nsubuga were having tea together, Kato "demanded for sex from Nsubuga: The deceased started kissing Nsubuga and tickling him but in the process." Then apparently a third party knocked at the door -- Kizza Akram -- and the deceased stopped what he was doing," Ms. Karungi told the court.

The second-hand account, based on the confession of the accused, continued: "After breakfast, Kizza went away to the farm where the accused followed. They both uprooted cassava and Nsubuga came back leaving Kizza in the garden. Nsubuga prepared lunch for Kizza and the deceased. After lunch the deceased locked the house and informed Nsubuga that it was time for sex," Ms. Karungi said.

"This is the time Nsubuga told the deceased that he wanted to ease himself in the bathroom after which he would come back and have sex, "according to the Ugandan Monitor and the prosecutor continued: "While in the bathroom, Nsubuga picked up a hammer, came back to the living room and hit the deceased on the back of the head twice."

“Prosecutor Karungi says that Nsubuga then dragged the deceased to the bedroom where he started picking items from the deceased's bag. The items picked included a camera, keyboard for a computer, T.shirts, shoes and a mobile phone. He opened the door, got out, and locked the door from outside. He then threw the keys in the gumboots that were outside."

The Daily Monitor in Uganda continues its report:

"It is also said that at 2:00 PM on that fateful day, Kizza came back from the farm and found the door locked and the music was playing loud from the house. After waiting for a while, Kizza inquired from the neighbors where Kato was and they told him that they did not know. They however informed Kizza that they had seen Nsubuga leaving the house dressed in the deceased's clothes.

This prompted Kizza and the neighbors to peep in the deceased's house where they saw fresh blood stains on the living room floor that prompted them to search for the house keys. Upon entering the house, they saw blood stains leading to the bedroom, where the deceased was discovered lying unconscious on the bed in a pool blood.

"They rushed him to Kyetume Health Center, from where they were referred to Mulago Hospital but the deceased passed away before this could happen. David Kato's body was then takento Kawolo Hospital for postmortem where they discovered that the deceased had been seriously hit at the back of the head," Ms Karungi noted.

The hunt for Nsubuga culminated in his arrest when he was spotted by Nakabago residents in Mukono district, who alerted the police. He was arrested and taken to Mukono Police Station where he admitted to the murder charges brought against him. Ms. Karungi then told court that the case against the Nsubuga was very serious and she asked court for a maximum penalty basing on the evidence that had been presented and that basing on the fact that the accused had admitted to the crime.

Kato’s death was condemned strongly by the LGBT international community and local activists as well as President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who called upon the government to investigate the cause of his death and speak out against homophobia towards the gay community in the country.

While the police issued a statement to the effect that Kato’s killing was no way related to his campaign for gay rights, many of us believe this entire story to be a cover-up of the actual facts and events leading up to Kato's brutal murder.

What is of greatest concern to me is that the Ugandan government has failed to render a version of the events that makes any sense at all. On the one hand, given the context of anti-gay fervor in Uganda, the story uses homosexual sex to imply that Kato's homosexuality had something to do with his death, yet it refuses to consider that maybe it had nothing to do with sex and everything to do with a vendetta against Kato for his gay rights activism. This version is nothing more than slander of a dead hero and a means to detract from the truth about the murder.

The language used and description inserts a so-called "demand for sex" as a concomitant leading to the murderer's actions. Clearly the murderer could have left the scene and he did not.

My dear friend and brother David Kato will not be forgotten and nor remembered in the way that anti-gay forces in Uganda would have us believe. If anyone knew David, he was not a man who would have demanded sex from anyone.

Nothing will stop us from remembering the real David Kato; the fervent activist who fought with courage that knowing his life was at great risk. David Kato died for his cause.

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