Court of Appeal enhances 44 years sentence in Ritual Sacrifice Case to Life Imprisonment

LThe Court of Appeal sitting at Masaka has today the 19th day of July 2023 varied a sentence of 44 years’ imprisonment against Waswa Stephen for kidnapping a young girl, RN with intent to murder her, to a sentence of life imprisonment.

The appellant was indicted and convicted for kidnapping or detaining RN with intent to murder contrary to Section 240 and 243 of the Penal Code Act by the High Court in 2017 and sentenced to 44 years’ imprisonment.

The facts of the case are that on the 19th day of July 2008 at Namayaga Village in Rakai District, the appellant (a shrine operator in Rakai District) kidnapped RN who was aged 2 years by force and took her away and put her in danger of being murdered with knowledge that she would probably be murdered, and he immediately vanished from the neighborhood. The victim was discovered a year and half later dumped in a bush, mentally and physically disabled by the appellant. The appellant was subsequently arrested, indicted, convicted and sentenced to 44 years’ imprisonment.

Dissatisfied with the sentence, the appellant (Wasswa) appealed against sentence only whereas the respondent, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) cross appealed and prayed to court to exercise its powers pursuant to S.11 of the Judicature Act to enhance the sentence to life imprisonment which was appropriate given the unique circumstances of the case.

The three justices of Appeal led by Deputy Chief Justice Richard Buteera considering the facts in this case and provisions of the law , agreed with the respondent and enhanced the sentence to life imprisonment.

“We find that this was a good case for a sentence of 44 years’ imprisonment to be enhaneed in material particulars. As a result, we allow the respondent’s application to enhance the sentence from 44 years’ imprisonment to Life Imprisonment by invoking this court’s powers under seetion 1 of the Judicature Act and section 32 of the Trial and indictments Act.” ruled court

it was court’s consideration that with the asistance of videlink technology , they managed to see the child’s current situation that She cannot move and talk.

“She has a visibly contorted frame. It is hard to imagine that this was a normal two-year-old child living a normal life. before this incident. From the evidence, this court found that the victim’s tongue was severed, her teeth were yanked out, there were several cuts in the stomach. Her fingers and feet were also maimed. Her skull had become as soft as that of a new borne.”

That on top of that her labia minora had been mutilated, She had suffered contortion of the torso and has become a paraplegic who can neither walk, nor, talk, or sit or even move. She has lost the ability to chew or feed herself and can neither roll nor turn.

“Having found that the proper procedure for enhancement of sentence waso followed in this case, we are of the view that given the peculiar circumstances of this case to wit: prior to being kidnapped the victim was a normal two-year-old infant who could even fetch firewood with older siblings far from home: and that after the kidnap, she was maimed for life as a result of the appellant’s gruesome acts: there was a case made out for enhancement of sentence.” concluded justice Buteera in the lead judgement.

The appeal was prosecuted by Ms. Angutoko Immaculate – Chief State Attorney in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Jacqueline Okui , the Spokes person for the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) on commenting about the judgement, described it as a big success for victims of crime, particularly cases of child sacrifice and human trafficking which the Office of the ODPP in conjunction with other justice stakeholders are grappling with.

“Later, the victim was named Hope following her rescue and treatment. The Hope Event; International Conference and Gala was started in 2013 in honor of RN (Hope) to engage stakeholders towards improving case management, victim care and protection in child sacrifice and human trafficking cases, and creating awareness to end child sacrifice and human trafficking worldwide.”

This year’s hope event will be held on 28th July 2023 at Kampala Serena Hotel. The Gala which will be in Victoria Hall at 4:00pm is open to all members of the public.

































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