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Kigula's death sentence reduced to imprisonment

By Vision Reporter

Added 12th November 2011 07:26 PM

AFTER being on death row for nine years now for the murder of her husband, Susan Kigula, 32 on Friday had a reason to shed tears of joy when the sentence was reduced to 20 years imprisonment.

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AFTER being on death row for nine years now for the murder of her husband, Susan Kigula, 32 on Friday had a reason to shed tears of joy when the sentence was reduced to 20 years imprisonment.

By Hillary Nsambu

AFTER being on death row for nine years now for the murder of her husband, Susan Kigula, 32 on Friday had a reason to shed tears of joy when the sentence was reduced to 20 years imprisonment.

Kigula’s maid and age-mate Patience Nansamba, who was convicted together with her for being an accomplice in the murder of Constantino Sseremba, also had a reason to jubilate when their trial judge reduced her death sentence to 16 years imprisonment.

Justice Vincent Musoke Kibuuka of the High Court, who tried the two convicts made the ruling that was read on Friday by the Deputy Registrar, Criminal Division, Elizabeth Kabanda.

The judge said in his ruling that he had considered mitigating factors advanced by the convicts’ lawyer, Fred Mukasa Lugalambi, who represented them during the trial, who made extensive submissions and those by a team from Katende, Ssempebwa and Company Advocates.

He said he had also considered carefully the strong submissions by Principal State Attorney Caroline Nabaasa Mubangizi, who contended that the case of the two convicts fell in the category of the worst of the worst cases, deserving imposition of the death sentence.

The judge contended that he had taken into consideration the aggravating factors that the death of the victim was purely pre-meditated and the manner in which it was executed and in the presence of the children of the deceased, who was a co-habitant of Kigula.

The court had also considered the conduct of the convicts before and after the murdering.

Justice Musoke Kibuuka further stated that he had considered the mitigating factors in favour of and by the convicts that included being first offenders with no previous criminal record; being remorseful and apologeticto court and the victim’s families. That they were relatively youthful at the time of the murder and being potentially able to reform and be useful citizens if given a chance.

However, the judge stated that he did not consider post-sentence developments to be relevant to that review, because they would only be relevant where a general review of the sentence imposed were to be done.

“In this process, as I understand it, court is mandated only to listen to mitigating factors as they stood at the time the mandatory sentence of death was imposed. The court then decides whether it would have imposed the death sentence if it had not been mandatory and if the court had heard that mitigation at the time,” the judge said.

“After considering all the facts and circumstances and the aggravating and mitigating factors, court concludes that if the death sentence had not been mandatory and had had the opportunity of hearing the mitigation, which it has now heard, it would not have imposed the death sentence on either of the convict in this case,” Musoke Kibuuka stated.

“The court, therefore, substitutes the death sentence on A1 (Kigula) for 20 years imprisonment and a sentence of imprisonment for 16 years, in respect of A2 (Nansamba). The effective date for each sentence being September 11, 2002.  

However, the relatives of the victim, the late Sseremba, went away cursing the convicts for their actions.

The two women, convicted in September 2002, were sentenced to death because, at the time, the death sentence was mandatory, in that there was no any other sentence other than death, upon conviction for the offence of murder.

However, following an order of the Supreme Court in a constitutional appeal by Kigula, who led other 417 inmates seeking to abolish the death sentence, the sentencing now lay in the trial judge’s discretion.

The Supreme Court also ruled that a convict could also go back to the trial judge and mitigate over the sentence if he/she has not been hanged within three years after the last appeal, hence Kigula’s mitigation on the sentence.

While mitigating the sentence of death early this month, Kigula and Nansamba asked the judge to give them a chance to live. They separately promise never to commit any such offence, if given a second chance to live. They added that since their conviction and sentenced to death they had learnt to value human life and had reformed.

Kigula told the court that she was leading a crusade of fellow inmates and promised further that if given a custodial sentence after which she would be able to continue that kind of crusade to other fellow women wherever she would be with her 12-year-old daughter Namata she had with her late husband.

She also called out her late husband’s son, Herbert Sseremba, saying: Herbert don’t you know that I love you so much? You know that I do love you so much”

However, Herbert, who was only five years of age at the time his father was murdered in cold blood as he slept in his bed, could not answer the call by his stepmother, who was standing in the dock mitigating as she sobbed.

Herbert, now aged 14 had testified against his step mother in court during trial that he had witnessed the eyesore incident in which she cut his father’s throat with a brand-new panga she had brought home the previous evening and hid it under the bed.

Nansamba pleaded that she was the only bread winner for a family of six children and had come to Kampala from Masindi District to look for employment so that she could support her younger siblings, because their mother died and their father ran mad. She had worked for the family for only three months.

Kigula burst into tears as she looked at her 12-year-old daughter in the dock in court with her elderly mother, Gertrude Kigula.

Kigula''s death sentence reduced to imprisonment

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