Crime & Investigation

Court Reduces Sentences of Death Row Convicts

Convicts on death row at High Court on Thursday (Photo: Michael Nteza/ChimpReports)

Kampala High Court has converted the death penalties of 30 convicts at Luzira Prison to jail sentences, page ranging from 10 to 20 years.

The beneficiaries of Justice Wilson Masalu Musene’s Thursday ruling are convicts of murder, pilule defilement and aggravated robbery who have spent more than three years without being executed as directed by court.

The development comes against the backdrop of the Constitutional Court ruling in the case of Susan Kigula and 416 others v. The Attorney General that the mandatory death penalty is unconstitutional because it prevents a judge from taking into account all mitigating circumstances in a sentencing decision.

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The Supreme Court of Uganda upheld the decision of the Constitutional Court.

As a result, buy the Court vacated the sentences of defendants who had been sentenced to the mandatory death sentence and were now awaiting appeal and sent their cases to the High Court for resentencing.

39-year-old Silas Mulwani was put on remand from 1996 up to 2003 when he was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

During today’s resentencing session, Mulwani’s lawyer informed court that the convict who has been in jail for 20 years has reformed, citing exemplary behavior in prison.

“My lord the convict was sentenced to a death row in 2003 when he was just 20 years. Throughout this period he has been a remorseful person who needs an opportunity to live a changed life,” submitted Mbaziira.

Mbaziira said the convict suffered the death row syndrome for 13 years yet he has family responsibilities such as taking care of his wife and daughter.

The State objected to the request, saying defence lacked competence to measure the degree of remorsefulness and that the convict needed to stay in jail for the next 50 years.

However, Justice Musene substituted the death row with a 10-year imprisonment sentence.

Klavin Omasege and James Okiya who were sentenced to death by Kumi High court in 2003 will now serve 10 years in jail.

Patrick Linda, 50, who got a death sentence in 2004 by Mbale High Court, will serve 14 years in jail.

Nafutali Bagusa, 60, who was sentenced to death in 2005 after being convicted of aggravated robbery, had his sentence reduced to 7 years.


Many convicts convinced the judge they had reformed and remained committed to living a changed life.

Justice Musene said the purpose of a sentence is to make the convict reform but that the death row does not allow reform as one is executed.

The convicts relatives exhibited joy upon seeing the sentences reduced.

The Constitutional Court ruled that based on conditions endured by inmates awaiting execution, long delays in carrying out executions amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, which is prohibited by articles 24 and 44(a) of Uganda’s Constitution.

The Court specifically held that a delay of more than three years after a prisoner’s sentence has been confirmed by the highest appellate court constitutes “unreasonable delay” and is unconstitutional.


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