21 September 2012 :The General Court Martial (GCM) sitting at Makindye, Uganda, has quashed death sentences slapped on three junior Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) who were waiting for the hangman’s noose for murdering highway robbers.
Lance Corporal David Kiiza Mwebaze, Privates John Buruga and Richard Wanyama in 2007 waylaid highway robbers at the behest of their boss, a one Captain Mughungo. Captain Mughungo was the intelligence officer of the second division in an area where robbers often stopped vehicles and robbed passengers of their money and goodies. The three were charged with murder, found guilty and sentenced to death by the Division Court Martial on December 16, 2007.
They appealed to the GCM against both sentence and conviction through their civilian lawyer, Edward Muguluma Ddamulira. Muguluma has among other things been contending that the trial court erred in law and fact when it did not properly evaluate evidence on record before convicting the said soldiers.
In the GCM judgment delivered last week by the new Court Chairman, Brig. Fred Tolit, the seven-man panel of judges agreed with Muguluma that since the accused soldiers were confronting robbers who were armed with rifles and other dangerous weapons, they had no alternative but to shoot.
“The conviction of the three appellants who have been serving a death sentence is hereby quashed and sentence set aside and forthwith set free. Court further orders they (appellants) be re-instated in the Defence Forces and be transferred from the second division,” Tolit added.
The state prosecutor present, Maj. Fred Wairugala, did not say whether he is going to appeal against the GCM decision.