The Justices of the Court of Appeal said the military court has no jurisdiction to convict the UPDF officer for the offence of manslaughter
The Court of Appeal has acquitted a senior Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) officer, Lt Col John Kaye of murder.
On February 16, 2015, Kaye was convicted for the murder of Stephen Kabuye and had been sentenced to 10 years, but on appeal, the military court of appeal granted him a reduced charge of manslaughter with a 7-year jail term.
However, a panel of three justices led by the Deputy Chief Justice, Alfonso Owiny-Dollo ruled that the military court erred in law and facts by convicting and sentencing Kaye to seven years for manslaughter.
The Justices of the Court of Appeal said the military court has no jurisdiction to convict the appellant for the offence of manslaughter. Other justices are Elizabeth Musoke and Cheborion Barishaki.
"Court made a finding that murder was not a service offence; so it could not be tried by the General Court Martial. Accordingly, the proceedings in the Court Martial of Appeal were declared unconstitutional, as it was illegal for having been exercised without jurisdiction. In our view since the trial of murder was illegal," Owiny-Dollo ruled on Thursday.
Following this evidence, declined to rule on whether the Court of Appeal erred in law when they held and proceeded to evaluate the evidence on assumption that the appellant admitted killing, whereas not.
It could not also rule on whether Court Martial of Appeal erred in law when it convicted the appellant (Kaye) of the offence of manslaughter which was not proven.
This prompted the justices to allow Kaye's appeal and set aside the conviction and quashed the sentence. "The appellant must be set free forthwith".
Kaye was represented by Caleb Alaka and Evans Ochieng while Principal State Attorney Florence Okello Owinji for the state.
The military court of appeal chairperson, Elly Turyamubona also stated that GCM erred in law and facts when it convicted Kaye on evidence marred with a lot of inconsistencies and contradictions.
The court also stated that the General Court Martial erred in facts when it based on fanciful theories as evidence to convict Kaye.
Turyamubona added that the lower court failed to properly evaluate the evidence on record thus coming to a wrong decision, which caused an injustice to the appellant (Kaye).
According to prosecution, Kaye on November 12, 2011 at around 11:40pm was at his home in Nalumunye, Wakiso district when he had a loud bang on his gate and at the time, his wife was not at home.
The accused then went out in the company of his escorts to check what was going on, only to find a vehicle parked with full lights on. The driver Kabuye, the deceased, came out of the vehicle and Kaye allegedly shot him dead using a pistol. In the vehicle, was Kaye's wife and one person identified as Sarah Nakato.
Prosecution led by Maj. Fredrick Kanguwamu produced seven witnesses who said Kaye admitted killing the deceased but he (Kaye) claimed had acted in self-defence and in alternative, he claimed it was an accident.