In their Judgment, the Court of Appeal Justices re-evaluated the evidence by the DPP and found that Kabigumira’s testimony coupled with the strange conduct of Maj. Babumba were sufficient to warrant a murder conviction.
The Acting Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo led the Panel of the Court of Appeal Judges.
The Court of Appeal Judges have ordered for the
immediate arrest of Major Joel Babumba, an operative attached to the
Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence. He is wanted to serve his punishment for the murder
of his neighbor and peasant, Moses Kazungu on July 31 2012 over a land
dispute in Bwanyi village in Kalungu District.
The arrest warrant stems from a majority
decision of two judges to one, in which they overturned a judgment by Justice
John Eudes Keitirima in 2015 acquitting Babumba and Alex Baguma for Kazungu’s murder.
The two judges are Justices Alfonse Owiny-Dollo and Cheborion Barishaki.
Justice Keitirima acquitted the
duo on grounds that the circumstantial evidence in the testimony of Joseph
Kabigumira was insufficient to sustain the murder charges against them. Kabigumira
had testified that on the fateful day, he was walking around 3am with his dogs,
which started barking when they approached Babumba's farm.
He told court that he heard someone screaming
for help before he heard another, saying twist and let’s hurry and go. Kabigumira
told court that a motorcycle showed up shortly after and flashed lights, which
prompted him to hide near the roadside.
He said the accused persons also ducked for cover near him and he was able to recognise them since they
were neighbors on the same village. However, Justice Keitirima dismissed the
testimony, saying it was insufficient to pin someone on murder.
He acquitted the accused persons, saying the
state had failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt. Dissatisfied with
the decision, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions decided to appeal. In
their Judgment, the Court of Appeal Justices re-evaluated the evidence by the
DPP and found that Kabigumira’s testimony coupled with the strange conduct of
Maj. Babumba were sufficient to warrant
a murder conviction.
They argued that despite the fact that it was
dark; Kabigumira was able to identify the accused using the flash light from
the motorcycle since they were neighbors and ably placed them at the scene of
crime. The justices also noted that the failure of Major Babumba to attend
Kazungu’s funeral who was returning from transporting the accused’s 12 Friesians
Court also noted that Babumba's failure to
account for his whereabouts between 10pm and 5am on the fateful day was
conclusive evidence that he participated in the murder. The judges ordered for
the immediate arrest of the duo on sight to appear before a high court judge
The court orderlies
immediately arrested Alex Baguma who was in court during the judgment as the
hunt for Babumba is ongoing. However, Justice Elizabeth Musoke delivered a dissenting
judgment insisting that the testimony of one witness was insufficient to pin
Babumba and Baguma for Kauzungu’s murder and therefore dismissed the appeal.
The judgment was delivered by Ayebare Tumwebaze, the Court of Appeal Acting