By Sania Babirye
Convicted car pine bond proprietor Muhammad Sebuufu has petitioned the court of appeal challenging his murder conviction and 40 year jail term on top of compensating 100million shillings to the victim’s family.
On the 1st of June this year , Kampala High court judge Angelin Flavia Ssenoga handed a 40 year jail sentence to Sebuufu and his seven co convicts for murdering Kampala businesswoman Betty Donah Katushabe.
Sebuufu’s co convicts include Paul Tasingika a crime prevented attached to CPS, Shaban Odutu ak Golola, Phillip Mirambe a Congolese National,Kayiza Godfrey,Luwaga Steven a private guard ,Lwanga Yoweri Ketayinbwa,and Sentongo Damaseni.
These were also found guilty of kidnap and aggravated robbery.
According to the grounds in their appeal, the convicts are accusing are claiming that the trial judge erred in law and facts when she convicted them on all offenses without proof of all the essential ingredients of the offense beyond reasonable doubt .
These further claim that justice Ssenoga erred in law by failing to properly evaluate the evidence on record as a whole regarding their participation and the key issues raised thus coming to a wrong conclusion when she held that:
The victim was kidnapped with the support of police on the orders of Sebuufu, that the victim was tortured at Sebuufu’s office and that indeed Sebuufu and his co convicts had motive to kill Katushabe.
These are also faulting justice Ssenoga of convicting them basing on contradicting and incredible evidence.
The convicts further want court of appeal to set aside the 40 year jail sentences on grounds that it is harsh and excessive given the circumstances of the case.
Lwanga Steven a special hire driver who was found guilty of being an accessory after commission of an offense for driving the said car that was used to transport Katushabe to sebuufu’s car bond were she was tortured from was jailed seven years.
Earlier in state led by Winfred Ahimbisibwe asked Justice Ssenoga to hand Sebuufu a death sentence since the murder was premeditated .
However his lawyer Caleb Alaka had asked court to hand his clients 10 years since his client is married and a sole bread Winner of seven infants.
Sebuufu was also given a chance to address court and asked Justice Senegal to be lenient since he is the sole bread Winner of his family and is also currently looking after many families that are under-prevailed.
However justice Senoga jailed them 40 years each after she found them guilty of the charges.
On 3rd of June, , Sebuufu was convicted jointly with Paul Tasingika a crime prevented attached to CPS, Shaban Odutu ak Golola, Phillip Mirambe a Congolese National,Kayiza Godfrey,Luwaga Steven a private guard ,Lwanga Yoweri Ketayinbwa,and Sentongo Damaseni while a one Lwanga Steven a special hire driver has been found guilty of being an accessory after commission of an offense.
Justice Senoga ruled that prosecution had proved beyond reasonable doubt that Sebuufu and 7 others had a common intention to kidnap Katushabe from her home at Bwebajja , robbed her of her mobile phone and tortured her to death.
Sebuufu and his co accused were found guilty and consequently convicted of murder, kidnap and robbery.
The judge explained that prosecution evidence placed the convicts at the scene of crime as those who kidnapped Donah and intentionally caused her death.
However Justice Senoga has exonerated Lwanga of murder and instead accused convicted him of being an accessory since he is the one who drove the car that drove Katushabe from her residence to pine car bond where she was tortured from leading to her death .
In April this year, three court assessors asked court to dismiss all murder and kidnap charges against Ssebuufu and his co accused after Rehema Babirye, Wasimila Joseph and Betty Bogere told court that prosecution failed to adduce sufficient evidence that warrant the accused’s conviction.
The assessor relied on one of the evidence of Ssebuufu’s lawyer Brian Tindyebwa in which he testified before court that his client spent that entire day at Mengo Magistrate court in a land case.
The assessors also advised court to dismiss the kidnap charge on grounds that the deceased had herself requested to be taken to pine car bond instead of CPS when some of the accused persons together with police allegedly came to arrest her from her home.
On the 8th of January this year, in an effort to further prove his innocence, Ssebuufu produced his lawyer Tindyebwa as his witness to prove that he was not near his alleged murder victim on that fateful day.
Brian Tindyebwa informed Kampala high court that on that fateful day, his client spent the whole day at Mengo magistrate court in land case.
He explained that although he had asked his colleague to sit in for him because he had another case, he later joined Ssebuufu and sat behind up to three pm when the case ended.
Ssebuufu had denied to have been near Donah Katushabe or his other co accused when the incident happened claiming that he left Mengo after the case and reached at his car bond around six and found the victim there and later called the former Police commander of CPS Aron Baguma to intervene in the matter.
Ssebuufu closed his defense and the judge ordered both parties to submit their final submissions basing on the evidence presented on why him and his co accused should be acquitted or convicted.
Prosecution closed its case with 26 witnesses against the convicts.
On the 4th of December 2018, Ssebuufu began his defense and choose to give un sworn in defense in which prosecution did not have to cross examine him.
In October 2018, justice Anglin Flavia Ssenoga ruled that Ssebuufu had a case to answer on grounds that prosecution had adduced sufficient evidence to prove that Ssebuufu and his co-accused tortured to death the victim on the 23rd of October 2015 after failing to pay a debt of 9 million shillings over a car.
Sebuufu had initially been charged with the former Kampala CPS DPC Aaron Baguma over Katusabe’s kidnap and murder but later the DPP without giving any reason to court dropped charges against Baguma and continued with the trial of Ssebuufu and the rest, at the beginning of the trial this year .
According to evidence presented by prosecution, the deceased purchased a car at pine car bond at 13 million but only managed to pay five million.
That after failed attempts by Ssebuufu to have Katushabe pay the remaining 9millions, he instructed his security guards to pick up the victim from her home in Bwebajja along Entebbe road on that fateful day.
Prosecution states that after kidnapping Katushabe, she was taken directly to Ssebuufu’s office from where she was kicked and beaten with sticks there by causing grievous wounds to her body which led to her death.