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Court of Appeal Overturns Life Imprisonment Sentence of Two Convicted of Murder

It was alleged that in December 2012, Rudisha was walking from work with colleagues Muzamil Ombaga, Jamal Mawa and Rasul Atiku when a man suddenly stood in front of them and fired a bullet which hit and killed Rudisha instantly. Another bullet hit Ombaga causing him serious injury on the upper part of his body while another bullet missed hitting Mawa.
28 Feb 2021 08:54
Jusitce Elizabeth Musoke reading her judgement
The Court of Appeal has overturned a life imprisonment sentence meted to two people convicted of murder.

Aziza Gasper, 68 was arrested with two other people Patrick Asiandu, 34 and Godfrey Atabua in February 2013 for allegedly murdering businessman Robert Rudisha.

It was alleged that in December 2012, Rudisha was walking from work with colleagues Muzamil Ombaga, Jamal Mawa and Rasul Atiku when a man suddenly stood in front of them and fired a bullet which hit and killed Rudisha instantly. Another bullet hit Ombaga causing him serious injury on the upper part of his body while another bullet missed hitting Mawa.

Rudisha's colleagues with whom they ran a money changer business were forced to drop polythene bags that contained cash of various currencies. The gunmen picked the bags, jumped onto a getaway motorcycle and sped off.

Police at Arua Police station started investigating the case and in 2013 arrested the three suspects who were then charged before a Chief Magistrates court and committed to High Court at Arua.

In 2014, High Court Judge Stephen Mubiru acquitted one of the accused persons, Atabua Godfrey who had been arrested because he was thought to have coordinated the crime since he was seen making suspicious calls during the day.

Justice Mubiru however convicted Asiandu and Gasper and sentenced them to life imprisonment for the offence of murder contrary to sections 188 and 189 of the Penal Code Act. The two were also given an 18-year prison sentence for aggravated robbery and were to serve the two sentences concurrently.

They were also ordered to refund Ombaga the money they took which amounted to Shillings 16,850,000 and Sudanese pounds 12,500. They were also ordered to pay Shillings 500,000 to Mawa as compensation for the gunshot injury.

In 2016, their lawyer, Daniel Evans Olwoch appealed the sentence on grounds that it was harsh and excessive for first offenders like them.

A panel of three justices of the Court of Appeal, Justice Elizabeth Musoke, Hellen Obura and Remmy Kasule have quashed the life imprisonment sentence saying that it was harsh and excessive.

In a 25th February 2021 judgement delivered in Lira, the justices said that Asiandu was a first offender and that being still a youth, deserved to be allowed to reform and re-join the community as a transformed person. Also, Gaster was a first-time offender and of advanced age, something that had to be considered during the sentencing.

The panel further noted that although the High Court Judge had issued a sentence within the provided period of 30 years to death, there was a need for consistency in sentencing in cases with similar circumstances, in this case, murder.

The panel referred to the famous 2004 Susan Kigula murder case in which Kigula's death penalty was reduced to 20 years after it was returned to the High Court for Litigation.

It is upon those grounds that the justices sentenced each of the two accused persons to 30 years in prison for murder. From this sentence, the justices deducted five years, eight months and 25 days that the accused persons had spent on remand by the time they were sentenced in 2014. Each of the convicted persons will now serve 26 years, three months and 25 days in prison.

For aggravated robbery, the Court upheld the 18 years sentence for each. The two sentences shall run concurrently. The justices also upheld the orders to pay back the stolen money and compensate the injured person. 

       

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