Susan Okalany a Ugandan judge recently won a global award for prosecution. The Prosecutor of the Year award is given by the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) and is a prestigious award that Ugandans can be proud that one of their own has received.
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She won the award for the leading role she played in the 2010 prosecution of Kampala bombing suspects when she was a state attorney. The case had been brought to court after a major investigation and according to Uganda’s director of public prosecutions, Justice Mike Chibita, Susan Okalany had shown “tremendous courage, tenacity, professionalism and ingenuity” throughout the case, despite “constant threats to her life, her team and the loss of a dear colleague”.
The militant al-Shabab group had carried out the attack making it an understandably terrifying case to handle. The explosions had left 78 people dead, and many injured after the bombs went off at Kyadondo Rugby Club, Lugogo, and at Ethiopian Village Restaurant in the city suburb of Kabalagala.
A third bomb had been planted at Makindye House in the city suburb of Makindye failed to go off. It was rigged to explode when the phone rang but it malfunctioned.
The trial began in September 2011 and two self-confessed conspirators, Mahmoud Mugisha and Edris Nsubuga, were convicted after pleading guilty but it took a total of 82 prosecution witnesses and 13 defence witnesses to see the case to its end.
Susan Okalany with her team that comprised of principal state attorneys Lino Anguzu, John Baptist Asiimwe, Thomas Jatiko, and Racheal Bikhole, secured a conviction of eight out of the 13 accused. Judgement was finally given last year on May 26 in the trial presided over by the Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo.
Susan Okalany replaced the then lead prosecutor Joan Kagezi who was slain on March 30, 2015, by unknown assailants in the city suburb of Kiwatule. She rose from the position of an Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions to one of a judge.
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Okalany has also worked as a consular assistant at the American Embassy, a researcher with Forum for Women in Democracy and legal assistant at Ochienghs-Wellborn and Company Advocates.
When she was the Director of Public Prosecutions, Susan Okalany, headed the gender and sexual offences division and also the electoral offences investigations and prosecutions task force at the DPP.
She certainly seems to deserve the very high honour of Prosecutor of the Year awarded to her on Tuesday at this year’s IAP event held in the Chinese capital Beijing.
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