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Infernal Intent: The Deadly Fire of St Bernard’s Revealed

In a solemn hearing at the Masaka High Court, the initial testimony shed light on the harrowing incident at St Bernard’s Secondary School in Rakai District. The court was informed by the first state witness that the devastating dormitory fire, which resulted in the tragic loss of 10 young lives and left around three dozen injured, was an act of deliberate malice, not a mere electrical mishap.

Presiding over the case, Judge Victoria Nakintu Katamba listened as Steven Samuel Kibuuka, the principal government analyst from the Directorate of Government Analytical Laboratory (DGAL), presented his findings. According to Kibuuka, the evidence pointed to a sinister ignition by unknown assailants who employed petrol to fuel the flames.

The forensic examination of the scene revealed tell-tale signs of arson: hydrocarbon residues amidst the ruins and a shattered windowpane, hinting at the entry point of the incendiary device. The testimony was further bolstered by the harrowing account of a survivor, Rashid Bbosa, who described the desperate attempts to evacuate, only to be thwarted by doors locked from the outside, sealing the fate of many as the fire raged on.

The prosecution’s case was supported by a detailed laboratory report, although the defense’s concerns over the clarity of the photographic evidence led to a judicial request for more vivid imagery from the scene.

Under cross-examination, Kibuuka conceded the lack of conclusive proof to exclude an electrical fault, revealing a potential oversight by the DGAL during their initial assessment.

The proceedings have been paused until April 16, as the Chief state attorney, Noah Kunya, expressed the necessity to bring additional witnesses to the stand.

The revised indictment accuses four individuals, including three students from the afflicted school and a local tradesman, of a litany of grave charges: murder, attempted murder, arson, and attempted arson. The prosecution contends that these individuals, along with others who remain at large, orchestrated the fatal blaze on November 11, 2018, which led to the untimely demise of Remigious Tamale and nine other students. Pending further legal action, the accused have been remanded to Masaka Central Prison.


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