The Uganda Court of Appeal on Monday, February 3, 2019, upheld the 22-year jail term against two people who were convicted for the murder of businessman Eriya Bugembe Sebunya, alias Kasiwukira, five years ago.
The late Kasiwukira was killed on October 17, 2014, as he was jogging in the morning around the neighbourhood of his residence in Muyenga, a Kampala suburb. He was hit by a runaway car, which sped off after the incident thus Police referred to it as an “intentional run-over”.
In 2016, the High Court convicted and sentenced Sandra Nakungu, a cousin to Kasiwukira’s widow, and Ashraf Jaden, a former police officer, to 22-years in prison for murdering Kasiwukira. They appealed the sentence and conviction.
However, three justices of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Elizabeth Musoke, yesterday upheld the High Court verdict and said the trial judge properly evaluated the evidence and convicted the accused appropriately. Other justices were Hellen Obura and Ezekiel Muhanguzi.
“We find no merit in the appellants’ argument on inconsistencies and we hold that they were minor in that they did not go to the root of the case and so the learned trial judge was justified in ignoring them,” the justices held.
The justices explained that although there were some inconsistencies in the evidence of one of the prosecution witness concerning the car model that knocked the deceased, they were minor and did not affect the merits of the evidence.
The justices also said the evidence of the two witnesses, who saw Jaden and Nakungu participate in Kasiwukira’s murder, was corroborated by the evidence of two other witnesses, who were approached by the appellants (Jaden and Nakungu), to kill the deceased.
The two convicts had argued that they were convicted on a defective indictment. But Court ruled that they were properly charged in law.
Jaden had blamed the trial judge of denying him an opportunity to present his two witnesses but prosecution cited the law which prohibits an accused person from bringing new witnesses if it was not indicated during the committal period.
“In our view, we find the above provision mandatory in nature. It is therefore clear that an accused person shall not be allowed to call witnesses for which he or she did not mention during committal proceedings in the magistrate’s court,” the justices held.
Adding: “However the first appellant had the right to present his defence as granted under Article 28(3) (c) of the Constitution which provides the right to a fair hearing. The burden of proof does not shift to him, therefore he needed not to call witnesses to prove his alibi.”
In October 2016, High Court judge Wilson Masalu Musene acquitted the widow, Ms Sara Nabikolo of her husband’s murder
and instead convicted her cousin Nakungu and Jaden.
About two months later, the three main suspects, Ms Nabikolo, Nakungu and Jaden were charged with murder.