KAMPALA – Court of Appeal has revoked the punishment of life imprisonment that was given to the renowned serial killer Richard Arinaitwe after spending over 20years in incarceration.
In 2013, High Court Judge Vincent Kagaba sentenced Arinaitwe to death for murdering an American volunteer in 1998 in her room at Hotel Equatoria.
“Those who live by the sword die by the sword,” the judge reasoned thus finding him guilty of murder.
However, after the Supreme court ruling on January 21, 2009, that outlawed the mandatory death penalty on murder and that all inmates on death row who had spent more than three years without being executed should have their sentences mitigated before the High Court his sentence was reduced to life in prison.
Today, three justices led by Elizabeth Musoke ruled that the age of the Arinaitwe at the time of commission of the offence was a very big mitigating factor, which ought to have been considered by the resentencing court before sentencing to death.
Other justices are; Hellen Obura and Ezekiel Muhanguzi.
The court ruled that at the time of commission of the crime, Arinaitwe was only 21years of age, which is always a material consideration that ought to be taken into account before a sentence is imposed.
The justices also considered the report from the Prisons Authorities which showed a marked improvement in Arinaitwe’s behaviour and participation in several rehabilitative programmes.
During the hearing of his appeal, prosecution had stated that looking at his criminal behaviour, he is likely to constitute a danger to the community.
However, the three justices ruled that the benefits that would accrue by way of rehabilitation and the recognition of mitigating factors outweigh the danger to the community if Arinaitwe is released.
The court ruled that a sentence of 30years would be adequate for Arinaitwe after deducting the period he has spent on remand while attending trial which is 5 years and 3 months from this sentence.
The justices ruled that the sentence of life imprisonment imposed by the learned resentencing judge is set aside and replaced with 24years and 9months imprisonment to be served from the date of conviction which was December 18, 2003.
Court noted that Arinaitwe was a young man pursuing a Bachelor of Laws Degree for Makerere University but also a very hardened criminal at the age of 21years and has spent over 20 years in incarceration having been arrested on 30th October 1998.
Arinaitwe had raised six grounds of his appeal saying that the trial judge erred in law when he allowed the hearing against him to proceed without legal representation, the evidence of one of the prosecution witnesses to prove his identification was wrong and that the discrepancies and inconstancies in prosecutions’ evidence were minor.
However, while responding to his ground of not being accorded legal presentation during trial, the justices ruled that court cannot enforce the right onto an accused person who is not willing to have the assistance of counsel in prosecution of his or her case.