Kampala businessman , Mathew Kanyamunyu has finally pleaded guilty to the charge of manslaughter and accordingly sentenced to a five year jail term by High Court Judge, Stephen Mubiru.
The sentence was handed over after Kanyamunyu in a plea -bargain accepted responsibility for the murder Kenneth Akena, a social worker. Before the sentencing ,Courtt was presented with a plea bargain agreement entered into between the Director of Public Prosecutions and Kanyamunyu where he pleaded guilty.
“You caused grave injuries (to the deceased) but you rushed the victim to hospital. You have also made attempts to reconcile with the deceased’s family and you are a first time offender,” the judge noted.
He sentenced Kanyamunyu to six years but deducted the time he had spent on remand before being released on bail and settled at five years and one month imprisonment and told the convict that he had a right to appeal the sentence.
The same court had earlier rejected an application in which Kanyamunyu wanted to halt the trial to enable him complete the plea bargaining process.
Justice Stephen Mukiibi noted that whereas plea bargain is allowed in the country’s criminal justice system, it is meant to discuss the punishment to be given to an offender after admitting the crime committed.
Justice Mubiru in his rulling while dismissing the application also explained the relationship between the criminal justice system and the traditional one -in this case the Acholi Mato Oput .
“The traditional justice system is not a justification for halting trial. It(Mato Oput) is ambiguous and opaque that if your rights are violated, you are not protected by the rules of procedure,” the judge said.
Justice Mukiibi said there is no way the traditional justice system is interlinked with the criminal justice system in terms of testing the offender’s version of the story as it is with the criminal system where there is cross-examination of witnesses.
The judge also noted that whereas the traditional justice system is a good system of dispute resolution and bringing about peace and harmony in blood-related communities, it must be examined whether it is applicable in a criminal justice involving capital offenders .
“It(Mato Oput) is ideal for people living together and are related by blood since it prevents revenge and inter-tribal wars . How then do we transplant the system from the
In September , at the advice of his celebrated criminal lawyers led by D.Kabega Kanyamunyu opted for Mato Oput, the Acholi justice system where he made a confession to the heinous crime at a meeting presided over by Acholi Paramount Chief David Onen Acana II as a chief witness at the Ker Kwaro Acholi compound.
At the function, a council of six elders cross-examined Kanyamunyu as is required during Mato-Oput and he apologized for what he did.
“It is foolishness that I didn’t know about and I don’t think I will ever comprehend fully the magnitude and that is the reason that I am remorseful and the reason I ask for your forgiveness, understanding and for time for this healing process to begin and time for me to comprehend the magnitude of the tragedy,”Kanyamunyu told the Acholi leaders.
Consequently, he applied to the Director of Public Prosecutions to enter into a plea-bargain agreement, a deal that has led to him being handed a lesser sentence .
A plea bargain is an agreement in a criminal case between the prosecutor and the accused where the latter agrees to plead guilty to a particular charge in return for some concession from the prosecutor.
The Judicature (Sentencing Guidelines) do provide for a range of sentences that a judicial officer can hand over to convicted criminal .