TWO men, who were to face the gallows, could not believe their ears when three justices of the Court of Appeal overruled their death sentence.
Godfrey Oguttu and Robert Ouma Musumba of Masafu village in Busia district, who had been convicted by Justice Faith Mwondha in 2003, were instead sentenced to eight years in prison.
The convicts hardly uttered a word as Justices Galdino Magellan Okello, Stephen George Engwau and Constance Byamugisha, passed the judgment on Monday.
The High Court sitting in Tororo had found Oguttu and Ouma guilty of murdering Simon Onyango.
However, the Court of Appeal ruled that the prosecution failed prove that the accused intended to kill Onyango. The justices said Onyango died five days after he was assaulted by the accused and therefore they could not be held directly liable for his death.
They ruled that the two convicts be jailed for eight years and considering that they had been in prison since their arrest in 2002, they are left with one and a half years to complete the new sentence.
The appellants, who wore rosaries around their necks, were stunned by the ruling and after their lawyer, Edward Ddamulira, explained the implications, they jumped in joy.
â€œMzee webale okulwana tuwonye akalabba,â€ meaning, â€œElder thank you for saving us from the gallows,â€ they told their lawyer. Ddamulira, also a staunch Catholic, made the sign of the cross as he congragulated his clients.
Appeal court quashes death sentence