The Court of Appeal in Kampala has reduced the life imprisonment sentence handed to serial killer Richard Arinaitwe in 2003 over the murder of Cecilia Goetz, an American citizen.
Arinaitwe was sentenced to death for killing Goetz who had come to Uganda to follow up on the utilization of HIV/AIDS funds but in 2006, the Supreme Court ruled that all death row inmates who had not been executed after five years prison would have their sentences reduced to life in prison which is equal to 20 years.
The serial killer however appealed against the same in the Court of Appeal.
On Thursday, three justices of the court including Elizabeth Musoke, Hellen Obura and Ezekiel Muhanguzi ruled that Arinaitwe’s appeal against the conviction and sentence succeeds.
The court said that while the sentencing judge took into consideration and mentioned all the aggravating factors raised against Arinaitwe, the court never mentioned the mitigating factors raised by the appellant(Arinaitwe).
“The appellant was convicted on the basis of aggravating factors alone which in the view of this court is improper,” the three justices of the Court of Appeal ruled.
The judges noted that they had taken into consideration that the victim was murdered in a violent manner and that the same was planned and executed without remorse but on the other hand argued that Arinaitwe was still young and had bright future ahead of him and therefore ought to be given a rehabilitative punishment.
“The court should give him a rehabilitative punishment so that he can go back and live responsibly in the community. The appellant was remorseful and of good conduct as per prison authorities.”
The three justices of the Court of Appeal argued that Arinaitwe was a hardened criminal despite still being young and there was need to give him a punishment that would keep him away from society for its own safety.
The judges consequently overturned the sentence and replaced it with 30 years but deducted the five years and three months he spent while attending trial.
“The sentence of life imprisonment imposed by the sentencing judge is hereby set aside and is replaced with a sentence of 24 years and nine months upon deducting of the time he spent on remand. The appellant is to serve a sentence of 24 years and 9 months from the date he was convicted which is December 18, 2003,” the judges said in a judgment read by the court’s registrar.
This means that Arinaitwe has now spent 16 years in jail and is remaining with eight years and nine months.