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Friday,October 23,2020 02:44 AM

Lt. Magara jailed for manslaughter

By Vision Reporter

Added 19th March 2010 03:00 AM

OVER time, the court has decided on a number of high-profile cases. In a series, Saturday Vision looks back at some of the attention-grabbing cases that visited the court room

OVER time, the court has decided on a number of high-profile cases. In a series, Saturday Vision looks back at some of the attention-grabbing cases that visited the court room

By Edward Anyoli

OVER time, the court has decided on a number of high-profile cases. In a series, Saturday Vision looks back at some of the attention-grabbing cases that visited the court room

On Wednesday, February 15, 2006, at the peak of presidential and parliamentary campaigns, Dr. Kizza Besigye, a presidential candidate, was scheduled to visit Bulange to pay homage to Buganda Kingdom officials and enlist their support.

A crowd of his supporters gathered near the entrance to Bulange, blocking Rubaga Road. A motorist tried to go through but they blocked him. Gunfire was heard and in a moment, three people lay on the ground. One was dead, while the other died on arrival at Mengo Hospital. Investigations revealed that Lt. Ramadhan Magara was responsible for the shooting.

Magara was charged with two counts; murder and attempted murder. He was accused of murdering Gideon Makabayi and Vincent Kavuma and attempting to murder Haruna Byamukama. But Justice Wilson Kwesiga reduced the charges to manslaughter.

Manslughter is unlawfully causing death of another person without any malice or intention aforethought. Under section 187 of the Penal Code, any person found guilty of committing the offence is liable to life imprisonment.

WITNESSES
Robinah Kirinya, a government analyst attached to Wandegeya police station, said she test-fired gun number 56-131006840, an AK-47 that Magara used in the crime and found it capable of firing. Kirinya, however, said she was unable to prove whether the spent cartridges were fired from the same gun to do so because the laboratory lacked the facilities.

The second prosecution witness, Lt. Patrick Nyakairu, attached to Makindye military police headquarters, said he heard the shooting from Central Police Station, where he had been deployed. He testified that he rushed to the scene and found rioters stoning the offices of the resident district commissioner, where Magara was hiding.

He told the court that as he walked towards the RDC’s office, a man in civilian clothes and carrying a gun, emerged from the building. Nyakairu said he disarmed him and handed him to the Police. Nyakairu, however, added that he could not tell whether the man he disarmed was Magara.

Haruna Byamukama, another prosecution witness, who survived the shooting and was moving in a wheelchair, said he was shot by Magara. He said Magara jumped out of a saloon car and fired at the crowd that was waiting for the FDC presidential candidate.

Byamukama told court that although he had never met Magara before, he remembered him well because he was about eight metres away when he shot at the crowd.

Byamukama said he fell down during the commotion and later noticed that he had been shot. Isaac Wekoyera, a detective who was deployed at Bulange on the day of the shooting, told court that Magara killed the two people.

Wekoyera further told court that he knew Magara well because he had worked with him many times while Magara was the head of local defence unit at Rubaga.

John Mande, the officer in-charge of Old Kampala Police Station at the time, said Magara signed for an AK-47 rifle and 30 bullets.

He said the gun had not been returned to the station since January 2006. Mande said Magara, an officer at the station at the time, signed for the gun meant to guard Fred Bamwine, who was the Rubaga resident district commissioner. Geoffrey Kainamura, another police officer, told court that he was part of the team that visited the scene of the crime after they were informed of the shooting. He said he found a body, with bullet wounds.

Kainamura said several spent cartridges and bullets were recovered at the scene. He added that when they rushed to Mengo Hospital, where another victim had been taken, they found him dead. He said the victim was shot in the head.

Dr. Nsereko Mukasa, a consultant pathologist and a police surgeon, said he examined Magara to establish his mental status and found him to be normal.

PROSECUTION
The principal state attorney, Fred Waninda, asked court to convict Magara, saying the witnesses gave incriminating evidence against him.

He submitted that Magara acted in bad faith because he walked to his office after committing the crime, which meant that he had the intention of committing the offence.

Waninda said Magara acted irresponsibly with the gun entrusted to him around people who were not armed. He noted that the gun Magara signed for was the gun he used to commi the offence.

He asked court to disregard the evidence of the defence witness Hammed Mulega, who said Magara never shot at the crowd.

DEFENCE
Magara denied killing two people at Bulange. He said as he was on his way to guard the RDC, the crowd that had gathered waiting for Besigye became rowdy and blocked him from proceeding to Kisenyi. He added that the crowd threatened to lynch him and take away his gun.

Magara told Justice Wilson Kwesiga that he only learnt of the shooting when he went to make a statement at the Central Police Station. “I was never involved in the shooting and was surprised to hear that I killed people,” Magara said. His lawyer, McDusman Kabega, asked court to acquit him, saying the prosecution had failed to prove their case. Kabega pointed out that there was no evidence linking Magara to the scene of crime.

He argued that since the ballistic expert, Robinah Kirinya, could not tell whether it was Magara’s gun that was used in the crime, court should not rely on such evidence. Kabega said the chain of evidence had been broken because the gun had gone through many hands before it was exhibited.

JUDGMENT
Justice Wilson Kwesiga said Magara had no malice against the victims but was provoked when he was insulted by the rowdy crowd in the middle of the road and his windscreen was smashed. “The act of insulting the accused and criminally damaging his car amounted to provocation. In the heat of the moment, he acted suddenly. He, therefore, committed manslaughter and is sentenced to 14 years in prison,” Kwesiga said.

Justice Kwesiga also noted that the Prosecution did not bring an expert to prove that Byamukama was crippled due to gunshot wounds.

Lt. Magara jailed for manslaughter

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