Crescent Muhumuza, a commissioner in charge of procurement department at the Ministry of health has been convicted and sentenced to two years and six months by court of appeal for criminal offences of forgery, criminal trespass, forcible detainer and theft.
According to criminal appeal No.147 of 2017 arising from the high court at Kampala criminal appeal No.357 of 2016 arising from the original chief magistrate’s court of Mengo at Law development center, the appellant, the state of Uganda through the office of the director of Public prosecution successfully charged Mr. Crescent Muhumuza before the grade one Magistrate’s court at Law development center Makerere and he was convicted of the criminal offences of forgery contrary to section 342 and 347 of the penal code act, criminal trespass contrary to sections 302(b) for the penal code act and theft contrary to section 251(1) and 261 of the penal code act.
The trial court sentenced him to respective sentences of imprisonment in respect of each offence of which he was convicted ranging to the shortest sentence of six months imprisonment and the longest sentence of two years imprisonment, the sentence running concurrently.
Dissatisfied with the conviction and sentence, Mr. Crescent Muhumuza appealed to the high court criminal division against the conviction and sentences through criminal appeal No.357 of 2016.
The appellant and the respondent in the appeal in the high court submitted written submissions and on 5th.May.2017, the judge in the high court appeal His Lordship Joseph Muragira delivered judgement allowing the appeal by quashing all the convictions against the appellant. The appellant was acquitted on all counts and sentence of imprisonment was set aside and he was set free.
The state opted to challenge the judgement of the appellate high court delivered on 5th.May.2017 by lodging appeal to this suit in the court of appeal before deputy chief Justice Richard Butera, Catherine Bamugemereire and Remmy Kasule and named the grounds for this.
Court of appeal determination
In resolving this appeal, this court as the second court to entertain the appeal, has the duty to determine a matter of law.
The court of appeal chaired by the deputy chief Justice Richard Butera learned that the high court judge is stated to have erred in law when he failed to evaluate the evidence on record which led him to erroneously hold that the prosecution had adduced to prove that the respondent who had forged the sale agreement dated 5th.February.2009 of the land the subject of the charges and the resolution also dated 5th.February.2009 by Eden service park Ltd to sell the said land on Kere Ltd and this caused a miscarriage of justice to the complainant.
“In respect to the charges of the accused forging the resolution, exhibit PE 17 and the sale of agreement, exhibit DE2, the trial Magistrate considered the whole evidence of the prosecution and defense in the respect of this charge and concludes that, although the accused denied the forging the resolution and sale agreement, I have no reason to doubt the testimonies of the prosecution witness. Therefore the prosecution proved without a doubt that the resolution dated 05.02.2009 and the sale agreement dated 12.02.2009 were false since they bore the forged signatures and were purporting to be documents made by Eden Service Park In Favor Of Kere Limited while this was in fact false,” The Judgement reads.
The judgement also reads that the learned appellate Judge while dealing with the grounds of appeal in respect of counts 1 and 2 which constituted forgery contrary to section 342 and 347 of the penal code act, held that the trial Magistrate never evaluated and considered the appellant’s evidence in defense. The learned appellate Judge was with respect, in our considered view correct is so holding. The above quotation of judgement of the trial magistrate clearly shows that the trial magistrate considered the evidence of denial by the accused / respondent that he had not forged the documents in the issue. However the trial court had, after considering all the evidence adduced before him by both the prosecution and defense on the point, come to the conclusion that there were no reasons to doubt the testimonies of prosecution witnesses as being the truthful ones, the trial Magistrate thus rejected the accused /respondent denial.
The evidence on the record is thus our considered view which evidence, with respect to the appellate high court judge was not considered by him, supports the holding of the trial magistrate.
“All the grounds of the appeal that were argued before this court have been successful, this appeal is hereby allowed. The judgement of the appellate high court judge in high court criminal appeal No.357 of 2016 and the orders made therein are hereby set aside, the judgement of Buganda road chief Magistrate court, grade one court at law development center in criminal case No.493 of 2016 and orders made therein is hereby upheld and rein stained. According it is hereby ordered that the respondent of this appeal Muhumuza Crescent be arrested forthwith and committed to Uganda government prison for him to serve the sentences of imprisonment passed against him on 15.11.2016 by the grade one Magistrate at Law development center in criminal case No.493 of 2015,” Judgement reads.
By reasons of the above considerations, it is therefore ordered that the commencement date whereby the respondent is to begin to serve the sentences passed against him by the Magistrate grade one the court at law development center on 15.02.2016 shall be the date that the respondent Muhumuza Crescent shall be committed to the custody of the Uganda prisons after the delivery of this Judgement