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Serial Killer Richard Arinaitwe Asks Court to Quash Sentence

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Asiimwe told a panel of Court of Appeal Justices including Hellen Obura, Ezekiel Muhanguzi and Elizabeth Musoke that the conviction and subsequent sentencing of her client by Justice Rwamisazi was illegal.
28 Feb 2019 19:18
Convicted Serial Killer Richard Arinaitwe in White at the Court of Appeal in Kampala
Convicted serial killer, Richard Arinaitwe has asked the Court of Appeal to quash his life sentence. Arinaitwe has spent more than 20 years in Luzira prisons for the murder of an American Volunteer Cecilia Goetz, at Hotel Equatorial in Kampala, in 1998.

Goetz was in Uganda to follow up on the utilization of HIV/AIDS funds. High Court found Arinaitwe guilty of stabbing and killing Goetz and sentenced him to death. The presiding  judge said there was overwhelming evidence linking Arinaitwe to the murder.

The evidence included two pistols and a knife that was recovered from the ceiling in Kololo where Arinaitwe was hiding for about three months before he was arrested. The knife reportedly fit well in the sheath, which Arinaitwe forgot in room 321 at Hotel Equatorial where Cecilia was stabbed 30 times.

Arinaitwe's death sentence was commuted to life in prison following the Supreme Court judgement in 2009 that said that all death row inmates who hadn't been executed after five years in prison should have their sentences reduced to life in Prison (20 years).

However, Arinaitwe through his lawyers, led by Elizabeth Asiimwe is challenging his conviction. Asiimwe told a panel of Court of Appeal Justices including Helen Obura, Ezekiel Muhanguzi and Elizabeth Musoke that the conviction and subsequent sentencing was illegal.

She explained that Arinaitwe represented himself in High Court yet he didn't have sufficient legal knowledge to challenge the evidence that was laid before court. Asiimwe added that if Arinaitwe had a lawyer, he would have been acquitted because the principle witness, Paddy Ssemanda contradicted himself in his testimony when he failed to place the convict at the Scene of Crime.

She argued that Arinaitwe would have challenged Ssemanda's testimony if he knew the law. She argued that in his testimony, Ssemanda told court in different statements that he first saw Arinaitwe's face at Equatorial Hotel but later turned around, saying he hadn't seen him.

She accused the judge of failure to evaluate evidence on court record and address his mind legally before delivering his judgment. Asiimwe also said the record before court clearly shows that Arinaitwe wasn't involved in the murder and asked court to either quash his sentence or reduce it. 

The State Prosecutor, Nelly Asiku opposed Arinaitwe's plea and supported his conviction and sentence. Asiku asked court to at least sentence Arinaitwe to 36 years in Prison, arguing that he was given a State lawyer to represent him during trial but opted to proceed alone.

"He was once with his lawyer but they disagreed. Arinaitwe told court that no defense lawyer would represent him", Asiku told court. She explained that throughout the trial, the Judge kept guiding Arinaitwe on what to do, saying there was no miscarriage of justice. 

She defended the testimony of Ssemanda, saying he gave circumstantial evidence despite the fact that he was also in shock. Asiku asked court to hand him 36 years if at all the lower courts erred in law and facts while sentencing him. 

Arinaitwe appeared before Justice Joseph Murangira who substituted his death sentence with life in prison. Arinaitwe isn't new to controversy.  In 2002, he attempted to strangle Buganda Road Court Chief Magistrate, Elizabeth Alvidza now a judge in the Commercial Court.

He had previously been implicated in other criminal offenses such as robbery at a Forex Bureau at Sheraton Hotel.  The Court of Appeal Justices said their will deliver their judgment on notice.

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