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Court of Appeal Overturns CMI Officer's Acquittal for Murder

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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 was strange.   

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 for sentencing.  

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 Registrar.    

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