Upon pleading guilty, the state prosecutor, Ivan Kyazze told the court that he didn’t have any criminal record of the convicts adding that they deserved a deterrent sentence to act as examples to the would-be offenders.
The Standard Utilities and Wildlife Court at Buganda Road in Kampala has convicted seven fishermen over illegal fishing.
The convicts appeared before Grade One Magistrate, Marion Mangeni and pleaded guilty of being in possession of prohibited fishnets and operating without a valid licence.
The convicts are John Mwanje, 33, Steven Ssempa, 32, Musa Owori, 19, Felix Ngabirano, 40, Casian Rukundo, 44, Amiri Mubiru, 40 and Paul Kabanda, 26.
All the convicts reside at Katoke Landing Sites, Kachanga and Kyalyambuzi Damba village in Koome sub-county, Mukono district respectively.
They were charged and pleaded guilty over two counts of being in possession of prohibited fishnets and operating without a valid licence.
The offences contravene sections 12 (1) (2), 28 and 33 of the Fish Act Cap. 197 as amended by the Fish Amendment Act of 2011.
Upon pleading guilty, the state prosecutor, Ivan Kyazze told the court that he didn't have any criminal record of the convicts adding that they deserved a deterrent sentence to act as examples to the would-be offenders.
"Your worship, we have no criminal record of all the convicts, which means they are first time offenders and have not wasted the court's time.
We, therefore, pray for a deterrent sentence since cases of this nature are rampant and common in the jurisdiction of this court," Kyazze said.
However, the accused pleaded for the court's utmost mercy of a non-custodial sentence saying they are family men who did not intend to commit the offences but were trying to look for a living to feed their families.
"Your honour, I didn't know that the nets I possessed were prohibited, help me and give me a lenient non-custodial sentence.
I do promise that I will never do it again and will educate my fellow fishermen on illegal fishing if released," Mubiru said.
Having mitigated, the trial Magistrate adjourned the case to March 24, 2020, for sentencing.
"Having carefully heard the state submissions and the mitigations of all the convicts, I adjourn this case to March 24, 2020, for your sentence and you are hereby remanded till then," Mangeni ruled.