The High Court in Kigali has directed the Ministry of Health to appoint a team of at least three pathologists to audit the autopsy report on the circumstances under which Maggie Mutesi died in September 2017.
The audit was called following the challenge made by her husband, Drake Mugisha, who was convicted by a lower court for killing his wife at the couple’s home in Kigali.
Mugisha, who was handed life sentence by Nyarugenge Intermediate Court, claims that he was convicted on an autopsy report that was forged to frame him for the murder of his wife.
The autopsy, carried out by a Dr. Lynnette Kyokunda Tumwine from King Faisal Hospital, stated the cause of death as strangulation, which implicated the husband, who was home at the time.
However, according to Mugisha and his lawyers, the autopsy was carried out by a person who was not qualified as a forensic pathologist.
During the ruling on Friday, High Court judges said that they needed to thoroughly exhaust any information on flaws or strength of the autopsy report before they could determine the final ruling.
“Court finds it prudent to further consult experts in this medical area to establish if indeed the autopsy report by Dr Kyokunda was not admissible in determining what caused the death of late Pastor Maggie Mutesi,” read the ruling from the bench that had Justice Cassien Nzabonimpa presiding.
Court ruled that the audit should cover three things;
One is to examine and react on the autopsy report made by Kyokunda to determine the explanation given could be based on to determine the cause of death of Maggie Mutesi.
Two is to share new knowledge of expertise in case the report by Kyokunda does not constitute the requirements (for making an autopsy report) and if her explanation is admissible.
Lastly, the court gave a timeline of two months [between June and July] for the team to have concluded their investigation and submitted their report to the court.
In highly contentious court sessions during appeal, Mugisha, who is represented by Florida Kabasinga of Certa Law, a law firm in Kigali challenged the autopsy report by tabling a dissenting opinion by a pathologist from Uganda.
This challenge was however dismissed by prosecution, saying that the opinion did not come from someone accredited to practice on Rwandan territory, because he was not a member of the Rwanda Medical and Dental Council (RMDC).
Court then summoned RMDC led by the body’s Chairperson, Prof Emmanuel Rudakemwa to clarify on if a foreign practitioner was allowed to share their expertise on a case where he was not accredited to practice.
Rudakemwa said that any opinion by a qualified practitioner was valid but admissibility in court was the discretion of the court.
On the competence of the doctor with the dissenting view of the autopsy, Rudakemwa said he would consult their sister institution in Uganda, which he later did and found the doctor was indeed a fellow doctor and accredited by Association of Physicians of East Africa.
Mugisha, who was a captain in Rwanda Defence Force before he retired in 2017, accuses the family of his deceased wife of framing him for the death of the woman with which he had three children.
During the prior hearings, it was indicated that the couple had been estranged for at least three years before the tragedy.
They had even filed for divorce in July 2016, before they decided to stop the process and attempt at reconciliation.
The deceased, Mutesi was the founder of Heavens Gates Ministries Kigali.