By Charles Birungi
The Special Forces Command Division Court Martial sitting at Sembabule District headquarters yesterday convicted and sentenced Police Constable Nkamuhebwa Canan to death for the murder of one Tumukunde Paul who was shot dead two days earlier after a physical brawl that involved two other soldiers.
His accomplices, Private Katsigazi Abel and Lance Corporal Abasa Johnson were also found guilty by court and sentenced to 40 and 15 years in jail for abetting the crime and conspiracy respectively.
The soldiers denied the offences, pleading that they acted in self defense but court found them guilty based on eye witness accounts and other corroborative evidence that court found induced malice aforethought, a key ingredient in murder trials. The sentences are to be carried out at Luzira maximum security prison in Kampala.
The Court Martial, chaired by Lt. Col Moses Emeru heard that on Thursday evening, 20 July, the three soldiers confronted the late Tumukunde Paul, with whom they had long running misunderstandings. A brawl then ensued, with the late Tumukunde getting engaged in a physical altercation with Private Katsigazi. Police Constable Nkamuhebwa intervened by releasing two bullets, which struck Tumukunde in the left rib cage killing him instantly. The trio, with a car driven by Abasa later handed themselves in over to Sembabule police station after realizing the magnitude of their offence.
Tumukunde was the son of the area LC 3 chairperson, Mr. Fred Kareke.
Court, according to Lt. Col. Emeru, was compelled to dish out the harsh sentences in order to deter other officers and men of the defense forces from engaging in similar criminal activities. The convicts were given 14 days to appeal their convictions in the General Court Martial if they were not satisfied with the decisions of the lower court.
Nkamuhebwa, a police officer attached to the Police Presidential Guard Unit (PPG), looked worried when the death sentence was read out to him. Police officers who commit crimes are ordinarily not tried by military courts. However, according to the UPDF Act 2005 section 119, every person, not otherwise subject to military law, can be court-martialed if he or she aids or abets a person subject to military law in the commission of a service offense or while serving with the defense forces under an engagement by which he or she has agreed to be subject to military law.