By Capt Denis Omara
The Division Court martial (DCM) of the Special Forces Command (SFC), has on Saturday, Jul 22, 2017 convicted and sentenced to death Police Constable No. 63070 Nkamuhabwa Canan for homicide.
Constable Nkamuhabwa (26 yrs), formerly attached to the Police Presidential Guard (PPG), was found guilty of shooting dead a civilian Tumukunde Paul on Thursday, Jul 20, 2017 after a brawl in sembabule town that involved two other soldiers of SFC.
PC Nkamuhabwa in handcuffs appearing before the DCM at Sembabule district Hall. PPU Photo.
Court also sentenced two accomplices; private Katsigazi Abel 28, and Lance Corporal (L/Cpl) Abasa Johnson 40, to 40 and 15 years imprisonment respectively to Luzira Government prison for abetting and aiding a crime and conspiracy.
The soldiers in their testimonies denied the offences pleading they only acted in self defense but when put to their defense, court found them guilty based on corroborative evidence and eye witness accounts that court found induced malice aforethought, a key ingredient in murder(homicide) trials.
The court, chaired by Lt Col Moses Emeru, heard that on Thursday evening, July 20, the three militants confronted the late Tumukunde, with whom they had running misunderstandings.
A physical assault then ensued, drawing the late Tumukunde in a physical exchange with Private Katsigazi. Police Constable Nkamuhabwa then intervened by firing two bullets which struck Tumukunde in the upper left part of the body (chest) between the fifth and sixth rib killing him instantly.
Having realized the magnitude of their offence, L/Cpl Abasa (driver), a senior soldier among them drove the car and handed themselves to Sembabule police station.
L/Cpl Abasa (left), Pte Katsigazi (centre) and PC Nkamuhabwa (right) in handcuffs awaiting to be produced before court on charges of murder in Sembabule. PPU Photo.
According to section 119 of the UPDF ACT No.7 of 2005, every person, not otherwise subject to military law, can be court-martialed if he or she aids or abets a person subject to military law in the commission of a service offence or while serving with the defense forces under an engagement by which he or she agreed to be subject to military law.
Therefore, the trio jointly committed the offence of murder, abetting and aiding a crime and conspiracy, making Nkamuhabwa subject to military law.
The chairman DCM, in his ruling went ahead to pronounce the sentencing of the convict No. 63070 Police Constable, Canan Nkamuhabwa, to a fully packed room that comprised relatives of the deceased as well as the locals who had come to attend court, the first of its kind in Sembabule.
Across section of people attending a court session at Sembabule District Headquarters. PPU Photo.
“ The convict before this court pleaded not guilty to the offences of murder contrary to section 188 and 189 of the penal code ACT cap 120, conspiracy contrary to section 180 of the UPDF ACT No.7 of 2005 and abetting a crime contrary to section 184 (1) (a), (b) and (c) of the UPDF ACT No.7 0f 2005. Court therefore convicted him on its finding of guilty.” The Chairman pronounced.
“This court equally directed itself on the mitigation adduced to court by the counsel to the convict. Court noted that, the offences of murder contrary to section 188 and 189 of the penal code ACT cap 120, and conspiracy contrary to section 180 of the UPDF ACT No.7 of 2005, are of a serious nature and therefore, there was need to deter other officers/men from committing the same offences.” He read.
On the other hand, he said. “Court also took into account the mitigation by the defense counsel and thus considered them in the sentencing, in the circumstance, this court is left with no other option but thus hereby sentence you No. 67030 PC Nkamuhabwa to death.” The Chairman read the verdict.
To count 3 of conspiracy, court sentenced him to 5 years imprisonment at Luzira government prison. The sentences are to run concurrently with effect from July 20, 2017 starting on the day of arrest.
He urged PC Nkamuhabwa to appeal within 14 days starting 22 July, 2017 if he is not satisfied with the decision of court saying it’s his right.
Meanwhile, Pte Katsigazi Abel and L/Cpl Abasa Johnson, were sentenced to 40 and 15 years respectively for abetting and aiding a crime contrary to Section 184 (1)(a),(b) and (c) of the UPDF ACT No.7 of 2005. Abasa was equally sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for conspiracy contrary to Section 180 of the UPDF ACT No.7 of 2005.
Lance Corporal Abasa failed in his capacity as a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO), to take action on Nkamuhebwa and Katsigazi. He did not offer the much needed leadership in the circumstance that they were faced with, thereby, allowing the duo to commit a heinous crime over his watch; the reason he is personally held responsible.
The sentencing of Nkamuhabwa and his cohorts therefore, serves to echo the need for strict and good discipline within the force. It should be remembered that, the standard for those who bear arms have been set very high and those who fall short will face the wrath of the law.
In trying Service offences, UPDF is known for quick dispensation of justice to its troops. Over the years, UPDF has continuously prosecuted some of its errant members of such serious crimes;
On October 5, 2016, the UPDF court martial in Moroto sentenced Captain Michael Walumbe, to 10 years imprisonment for killing one Asio Moses.
Lance Corporal Katwesigye Moses was sentenced to 60 years on June 11, 2016 for murder of six civilians and two soldiers.
Meanwhile, Pte Odong who murdered his fiancée, killing a two year old child and injuring four others was on May 23, 2014 sentenced to 35 years and Pte Patrick Edema was on December 21, 2011 sentenced to life imprisonment for killing a civilian Moses Musasizi.
Therefore, UPDF is swift and effective in dispensing justice; the reason it’s ranked among the most disciplined forces in the world, a success attributed to sacrifices made by its leadership and Commanders at all level.