(Continued from The Den of Lions III)
Daniel is settling in the cells, knowing that he that he will spend the night there and will be presented to court tomorrow, when he is unceremoniously called out. He had asked to be allowed to contact his lawyer, so he assumes that he is being taken out so that he can make a phone call. Instead, he is put in a police van and rushed to the court.
The courtroom is deserted, except for about six people, excluding the police officers who have brought him here. Fides is seated on the second row, and starts sobbing softly when Daniel is brought in. She is comforted by an older woman she is with, perhaps an older sister. Three people are seated on the Bar-the front row where lawyers sit. Of the three, Daniel recognizes only Amanda, the lawyer who represented Cecilia in the morning.
The other two are men, and Daniel assumes that one of them is the prosecutor. One of the men looks up from his file and walks over to Daniel. He is a very young man, almost the same age as Leonard.
“Hello Daniel,” he says smoothly.
“Hello,” Daniel replies suspiciously.
“My name is Alexander, but you can call me Alex. Everybody does. I have been sent by your lawyer Leonard. Leonard and I were classmates at the University. When he heard that you are being charged a second time, he realised he couldn’t make it on time and so he told me to come here and represent you. I practice around here so I could come on short notice.”
“That was kind of him. But how did he learn about my arrest?”
“I am sorry sir, but I wouldn’t know. He did not tell me.”
“Can I talk to him? Can you lend me your phone?”
“I am afraid that that is not possible sir. We are in a courtroom, and so you cannot make a call here.”
“But the court is not in session, otherwise you and I would not be chatting here.”
“Rules are rules sir,” Alex says uncomfortably. “I will give the phone after the court session.”
At that moment, the court clerk enters hurriedly and taps the table. Alex quickly walks back to his seat as everyone stands. The magistrate enters, bows slightly and sits. Everyone else sits after she has sat. The magistrate is a woman, just like the one who presided over the trial in the morning. But unlike the morning adjudicator who looked interested in the proceedings before her, this one looks bored, disinterested and irritated, as though she was removed from her siesta.
The court clerk reads out the case from a file. It is amazing how quickly a file has been generated, considering that the offence he is alleged to have committed occurred today. He is charged with multiple counts of rape and attempted rape which occurred on “diverse dates”. He pleads not guilty, and Alex springs to his feet.
“Your honor I pray that this court admits the accused person to bail, pending the hearing and determination of his case. He is an upright citizen and has a constitutional right to bail.”
The prosecutor rises to her feet before Alex even finishes speaking.
“Your honor, I am surprised that my learned colleague thinks that his client is an upright citizen. He was released on bail just this morning, and the day has not ended before he went back to doing what he does best, which is harassing women. The prosecution is opposed to the bail application, because the accused person is a danger to the society.”
Daniel expects his lawyer to rise to his feet and say things about the presumption of innocence, but the young lawyer remains in his seat. Instead, it is Amanda who rises from her seat slowly and looks at Daniel pensively before addressing the court.
“Your honor, my heart is bleeding today,” she says dramatically. “My heart is bleeding for the women of this town who have had to suffer at the hands of the so-called upright citizen. My client has expressed in her statement the fear that this man has instilled upon her and her family. He has been threatening just so that he can fulfil his wayward sexual fantasies without being exposed. Unfortunately for my client and her family, he has the financial wherewithal to execute those threats. Like my colleague the prosecutor said, he is a danger to the society and therefore should not be allowed to walk free in the streets. My client will only be able to sleep at night if she knows that he is behind bars. Anything less will be a travesty of justice.”
The magistrate nods slightly and scribbles furiously.
As the magistrate is writing, there is a commotion and a group of people enter. Four people, two men and two women, are led to the dock by police officers. Behind them are suited men who find places to sit in the courtroom. They are followed by a multitude of journalists, who seem not to have heard about Daniel’s arrest until now.
Cecilia takes advantage of the commotion and slips into the courtroom. She sits at the very back of the room. She knows how this will end, but she could not resist coming to see Daniel being led away to jail. She knows he is going to jail because the four lawyers working in this case are under her payroll. Amanda is of course her lawyer, even though in this case she is representing Fides. Cecilia has learnt something about her lawyer: in spite of her feminist moralist talk, Amanda is corrupt to the core. Amanda is the one who put together the bandwagon of corruption that is overseeing this case.
The magistrate is called Jane. She is a chief magistrate and the head of this court station. She was paid half a million shillings to preside over this circus today as opposed to tomorrow, and to give a favorable ruling. Amanda also handpicked a prosecutor, after oiling the pockets of the head of the local prosecution offices. Amanda’s forays into the local prosecution office cost Cecilia a quarter a million, but she is not sure how much of that went to this particular prosecutor and how much went to his boss.
But the master stroke was Alex. The boy was cheap. For just 20k and a glimpse of Amanda’s cleavage, he agreed to call that other boy Leonard and convince him that he had seen Daniel being taken to court in a fishy manner. As expected, Leonard asked his “friend” and former classmate to “go and see” what is happening. That was all the license Alex needed to declare himself Daniel’s lawyer. Amanda pulled this card because she said that the whole process would look legitimate if Daniel was represented by a lawyer, but they needed that lawyer to be someone under their control so that he wouldn’t mess up the plan.
Cecilia hopes to address the media outside the courtroom. She will express dismay at the actions of her husband and in the same breath express relief that he is finally under custody.
“But I don’t know why I am surprised,” she plans to say. “I mean, the red flags have always been there. I have seen the way he looks at waitresses, house assistants, and even my female friends. But this is my husband we are talking about here. I would never have imagined that he would do something like this, so I never thought about it. Even when he started becoming violent, I started making excuses for him, you know, maybe I am the one at fault. Perhaps I provoked him in some way or the other. You know the way we women cover up for the men we love. So the red flag were there, but still I am surprised to know that Daniel is capable of these horrendous actions.”
She has really practiced for that speech, including the facial expressions that she needs to use. The only thing she needs is an opportunity to stand before the camera. And being a Senator and Daniel’s wife, cameras will throng towards her immediately she is spotted outside the court.
The moment Daniel was hurriedly brought to court, he knew that something sinister was going on. But the confirmation comes in the form of the new entrants. The four people who have been brought into court are people he works with at Kagere High School. They are the Deputy Principal (Administration), the School Bursar, the Accounts Clerk and Daniel’s secretary. Daniel instantly knows that these people are being targeted because of him.
Cecilia has fulfilled her promise, and now she is using the full state machinery to crush him. The presence of the school bursar and the accounts clerk in the new team makes it clear to Daniel that a corruption scandal is being cooked against him. But he doesn’t know what they will get there, because all his actions as an administrator have been above board.
“I have considered the rival submissions in the accused’s person’s application for bail, and after looking at the relevant facts of the case, it is my considered opinion that the accused person is a threat to public. It is therefore not prudent for him to be released on bail. I therefore decline to grant bail and the accused person shall therefore be held in remand until the determination of this case. Next case please…”
Daniel hears his name being called out in the next case but his mind is spinning. Why is all this happening to him?
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Image by Gueido Reimann from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/sparkling-wine-date-of-birth-party-6786251/
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