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Court upholds death sentence against Tonku

By Vision Reporter

Added 13th November 2015 01:05 AM

THE Court of Appeal has upheld the sentence of death against Thomas Nkurungira saying that the trial court in 2011 rightly convicted him of the murder of his girlfriend Brenda Karamuzi

Court upholds death sentence against Tonku

Thomas Nkurungira''''''''s appeal against the death sentence has fallen through.

THE Court of Appeal has upheld the sentence of death against Thomas Nkurungira saying that the trial court in 2011 rightly convicted him of the murder of his girlfriend Brenda Karamuzi

By Hillary Nsambu

 

THE Court of Appeal has upheld the sentence of death against Thomas Nkurungira alias Tonku, saying that the trial court in 2011 rightly convicted him of the murder of his girlfriend, the late Brenda Karamuzi.

 

The court dismissed the four grounds of appeal in which Nkurungira, 43, had challenged the trial judge of convicting him on unsatisfactory circumstantial evidence, relying on speculation and conjecture, disregarding his evidence of alibi plus failure to adequately evaluate the evidence on record.

 

The court ruled that all the evidence looked, proved beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant (Nkurungira) killed the deceased, with malice aforethought.

 

"We find that the sentence was legal and that the trial judge did not err in law when he imposed it. The conviction is confirmed and the sentence of the High Court hereby upheld," the court ruled.

 

The unanimous judgment was passed by Justices Augustine Sebutulo Nshimye, Eldad Mwangusya and Kenneth Kakuru in a court that was attended by a few people including about six journalists.

 

However, youthful, well-built and wide-eyed Nkurungira, who, is at the time of arrest was identified as a Kampala businessman, appeared calm before and after the judgment. 

 

He was neatly was dressed in a black clean suit, a white shirt and a necktie and a black pair of shoes. Under tight guard of the Prison warders he talked to his relatives without any emotion on his face.

 

Tonku gestures in court shortly before the verdict on his appeal was passed. Photo by Denis Dibele

Brenda Karamuzi whose body was found stuffed inside a septic tank.

The house where Tonku lived and carried out the murder.

Benon Tusasiirwe and John Balenzi, who represented the appellant had asked the court to quash the conviction and set aside the sentence of death and acquit him arguing that the prosecution had failed to prove its case bwyond reasonable doubt.

 

However, Senior Principal State Attorney Jane Kokuo Kajuga, for the state, asked the court to confirm the conviction and the sentence of death against Nkurungira saying that the prosecution had proved its case beyond doubt and that the trial judge had rightly convicted and sentenced him.

 

The prosecution had told the court that in January 2010 fumigators who had been hired to fumigate in the home of Nkurungira found the body of late Karamuzi hidden in a septic tank that was covered in the enclosure of the house that was being rented by the appellant. Karamuzi had disappeared several days ago.

 

The police also recovered from Nkurungira's house three ladies' bags containing among the many items, Barclays Bank ATM and NSSF cards issued to Brenda Karamuzi.  The police also found suspected brain tissue samples from Nkurungira's house and suspected blood stains and many other items stained with blood.

 

Fred Ssempijja a shamba boy had been indicted with Nkurungira for the murder of Karamuzi, but the prosecution dropped the murder charge against Ssempijja and charged him with being accessory to the offence and the court convicted him of the offence and sentenced him to five years imprisonment. He did not appeal.  

 

CASE TIMELINE

 

31st January, 2010: The Police recovered Brenda Karamuzi's body dumped in a septic tank a compound in Bukasa- Muyenga's city suburb and arrested a businessman Thomas Nkurungira (Tonku), Two other people including his gardener Fred Ssempijja were also picked.

 

February 5th 2010: Thomas Nkurungira alias Tonku was charged with the murder of Brenda Karamuzi at Makindye Chief Magistrate's Court and remanded to Luzira Prison pending further inquiries.

 

Tonku and his co-accused Fred Ssempijja sit in court during one of their numerous appearances.

27th March, 2010: Ssempijja Fred said to be Nkurungira's shamba boy charged at the Makindye Magistrate's Court, with murder of Karamuzi.

 

18th July, 2010: The Makindye Court Grade Two Magistrate, Maxensia Namagembe, committed Tom Nkurungira to the High Court over the murder of his girlfriend.

 

29th April, 2011: Nkurungira denied killing his girlfriend. He appeared at the High Court in Kampala together with his co-accused, Fred Ssempijja, for the start of their trial.

 

27th May, 2011: Court heard that an analysis of the print-out of Nkurungira's mobile phone calls failed to place him at the crime scene, where he allegedly killed his lover. Enock Kimalyo, a detective in the criminal investigations department, told court that the print-out failed to locate the exact place where Tonku was between January 18 and 30 last year.

 

22nd June, 2011:  Nkurungira told the High Court in his defense that his relationship with the late Brenda Karamuzi hinged on money. "Our relationship was of convenience and compromise because I could not go to her place unless she called me and whenever she called me, it was about her financial problems," he said.

 

17th June, 2011: The High Court in Kampala ruled Thomas Nkurungira alias Tonku and his co-accused Fred Ssempijja had to answer for the alleged murder of Brenda Karamuzi. Justice Albert Rugadya-Atwooki made the ruling after prosecution had submitted its evidence, pinning the duo on the alleged murder. The ruling followed testimonies by 17 prosecution witnesses, including the bereaved mother, sisterand pathologist, who performed the post-mortem examination.

 

29th June, 2011: Nkurungira's four friends defended him saying he was in their company at various pubs at the time of the alleged murder. Testifying at the High Court in Kampala, the friends stressed Tonku's plea of alibi, saying they were with him at various places including a vigil within Kampala suburbs.

 

A police detective displays the murder weapon in court.

16th June, 2011: Ssempijja, the co-accused told court that he helped his employer (Nkurungira) to carry Karamuzi's body and dump it in the septic tank. His claims were contained in his charge and caution statements presented to court by Police detective Joy Mary Nakku, who recorded the statement on March 24, 2010 at Katwe Police Station.

 

20th June, 2011: Nkurungira told the High Court that he only learnt of Karamuzi's death when he was called to the police station by a friend. Nkurungira then 39 told Justice Albert Rugadya-Atwooki that he and the deceased were intimate friends, who loved each other and, therefore, had no reason to kill her.

 

6th July, 2011: Senior Principal State Attorney Joan Kagezi, who was prosecuting the case, told court, that prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt that Tonku was guilty of murdering Karamuzi.

 

12th August, 2011: The High Court in Kampala convicted Nkurungira of murdering his girlfriend.

 

13th August, 2011: The High Court in Kampala sentenced Nkurungira to death for murdering Karamuzi and dumping her body in a septic tank.

 

17th August, 2011: Nkurungira, files an appeal at the Court of Appeal.

 

4th May, 2015: Death row convict Nkurungira asks the Court of Appeal to quash his death sentence and conviction, saying the trial judge at the High Court relied on speculation.

 

4th May, 2015: Nkurungira's appeal bid to reverse his death sentence and conviction for the murder of his girlfriend starts at the Court of Appeal in Kampala.

Court upholds death sentence against Tonku

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