The Court of Appeal, consisting of Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, Christopher Gashirabake, and Oscar Kihika, has decided to reduce the initial sentence of three men convicted of raping a nursing student to 30 years. The previous 50-year jail term handed to Ben Omollo, Patrick Ecudo, and Gabriel Elomunait was deemed excessive by the appellate judges.
In the original case, on February 4th, 2011, the trio had been found guilty by High Court Judge Margaret Oumo Oguli and sentenced to 50 years for the 2010 rape of a nursing student at Jinja School of Nursing and Midwifery. The victim, identified as A.S., had been at a traditional marriage ceremony in Mukura sub-county when she was assaulted.
On the night of March 14th, 2010, A.S. had left her friends to attend to personal matters when Omollo and Elomunait approached her. Despite her protests, they insisted on engaging in non-consensual sex.
The court records detailed the victim’s attempt to negotiate and the perpetrators’ refusal, even rejecting an offer of money. The assault took place, and afterward, they prevented her from rejoining the ceremony, holding her hostage for a brief period before she managed to escape and report the incident to the police.
In their appeal, the convicted men argued that the trial judge had erred in relying on an improperly conducted identification parade, leading to a miscarriage of justice. They also contended that the judge had relied on hearsay evidence and imposed an excessive and irregular 50-year sentence.
The Court of Appeal, however, ruled that the convicts were properly identified, acknowledging the compelling evidence presented during the trial. Additionally, they noted that the trial judge had not considered that the appellants were first-time offenders, young, and had the potential for rehabilitation.
The justices found fault with the original sentence, particularly in the case of Gabriel, who was already living with HIV in prison.
They emphasized that the punishment was excessive and harsh, especially considering the lack of evidence proving the victim had contracted HIV/AIDS. The appellate court also deducted the time the men had spent on remand, reducing the overall sentence to 30 years.