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Court reduces jail sentence of convicted murderer from 61 to 21 years

Luzira Maximum Security Prison (File Photo)

KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Court of Appeal has reduced the jail term of convicted murderer Peter Bagatenda from 61 to 21 years. The decision stems from an appeal filed by Bagatenda challenging his conviction for 61-years for the murder of 15-year-old Pauline Nassiwa in 2000.

Trouble for Bagatenda started when he beheaded Nassiwa on July 19, 2000. It is alleged that Nassiwa was walking home in Nakawuka trading centre in Entebbe with her 10-year old-nephew Moses Byabasajja around 10 pm when Bagatenda emerged from the bush with a machete, beheaded Nassiwa, and ran away with the head. He is believed to have killed the deceased in ritual to boost his business.

In 2003, the High court in Entebbe found him guilty of murder and sentenced him to death. However, following the 2006 Susan Kigula case that saw the death penalty revised, lady justice Elizabeth Alividza conducted afresh Bagatenda’s case for resentencing. She handed the accused a 61-year-jail term.

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In 2014, Bagatenda through Douglas Magulu Sembuya Advocates appealed the ruling on grounds that the learned justice had erred in law and fact to impose such “an excessive jail term of 61 years.”

The lawyers argued that besides suffering the death row syndrome, their client “had demonstrated a high level of reform, remorse and was a first-time offender aged 22 at the time of the offense in 2000.”

The lawyer also argued that the judge didn’t follow the correct sentencing principles, when she ordered the sentence to be reckoned from resentencing date and improperly considered the appellant remand period and post-conviction period jointly.

Magulu also told the appellant court that his client had reformed and enrolled in primary school, adding that keeping him in prison for 61 years would mean that he regains his freedom at 97 years, an age at which he wouldn’t be productive anymore to society.

Now, a three-member of the appellant court comprising justices Catherine Bamugemereire, Remmy Kasule and Geoffrey Kiryabwire has unanimously agreed to reduce Bagatenda’s sentence from 61 to 21 years, saying that the earlier sentence was harsh and excessive.

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The justices noted that they would have sentenced the applicant to 35 years in prison but instead handed him 21 years being in mind that he has spent 14 years in jail.

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