Portuguese national seeks release on bail in child marriage case

Carlos Alberto De Almesia E Costa, a Portuguese citizen accused of aggravated child trafficking, has submitted a request for bail to the International Crimes Division of the High Court. On Tuesday, he appeared before Justice Richard Wejuli Wabwire, who scheduled his bail hearing for July 24th, 2023.

The prosecution alleges that between April 2020 and May 2020, at Busibante Zone in Kira Municipality, Wakiso District, Carlos received and provided shelter to a sixteen-year-old primary six student from Kira Primary School. According to the prosecution, this was accomplished by taking advantage of the victim’s vulnerable position or through the exchange of payments or benefits to the victim’s parents in order to obtain their consent for the purpose of exploiting the victim.

Carlos is also accused of harboring and facilitating a forced or child marriage for the victim. The prosecution claims that in August 2019, Carlos resided in Ntinda with his girlfriend named Sharon. After their separation, Carlos moved to Najjera in April 2020, where he rented an apartment. It was there that he encountered the victim’s mother, who used to sell tea on the roadside with her daughters, and he became a regular customer.

In late April, Carlos allegedly requested the victim’s mother to allow her daughter to come to his place and wash his clothes. However, the mother suggested that Carlos bring the clothes to their home, where they would wash them and he could pick them up, as they had developed a friendship. According to the records, Carlos visited their makeshift wooden home and found it unsuitable for meals. As a result, he supposedly advised them to find another house at his expense.

Subsequently, they rented a two-bedroom house for 500,000 Shillings per month, where Carlos, the victim, her siblings, and the parents resided. The accused occupied one room with the victim, while the parents occupied the other room, and they shared the kitchen. It is alleged that during their stay, Carlos would move from his bed to the victim’s bed at night, engaging in kissing.

When the victim’s younger sister left the room, Carlos purportedly began sexually abusing the victim. When the victim reported the matter to her mother, she advised her to speak to her father. However, when the father was informed, he remained silent. According to the evidence presented to the court, Carlos complained once again about the size of the house and rented a three-bedroom house for one million Shillings. In this new house, each family member had their own bed.

However, Carlos allegedly continued to express dissatisfaction with being separated from the children, and as a solution, the parents allowed him to share a bed with the children, where he continued to abuse the victim. It is also alleged that Carlos took the victim to Jinja one day and showed her explicit videos. When the victim refused to engage in sexual activities with Carlos, the matter was reported to the police, and Carlos locked the rest of the family members outside the house.

During the investigation, it was discovered that Carlos had written an agreement, which the victim’s parents signed. The agreement stated that he would marry the victim and pay the bride price of a house and a car within two years. The prosecution, led by State Attorney Joseph Kyomuhendo, intends to present evidence during the hearing, including condoms, electronic gadgets, and Carlos’ mobile phone, which he allegedly smashed but was later recovered and submitted to the Government Analytical Laboratory for analysis.

Medical reports indicating Carlos’ sound mental state will also be presented as evidence. Carlos is requesting bail, asserting his innocence, poor health, and the availability of substantial sureties. He has been detained until July 24th, 2023, when his bail application will be heard.

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