10 February 1999

Uganda: Wavamunno Sentenced To Death

Kampala — Johnson Kamya Wavamunno and two others were yesterday sentenced to death for murder and robbery of US$240,000, the property of Barclays Bank. High court Judge Lady Justice Constance Kategaya Byamugisha sentenced the three to death after finding them guilty of the two offences.

Wavamunno's lawyers are to appeal the sentence. Wavamunno, brother to Kampala tycoon, Gordon Wavamunno, was shattered when the judgment was read out to him. His usual smile vanished. Wearing a blue suit and a light blue shirt, Wavamunno clutched his Bible soon after the judgment.

He was led away under heavy security. The courtroom was fully parked by the convicts' relatives and friends who walked out in a low mood. The other convicts, Semei Mwesigwa Bonde and Private Paddy Baryeijuka, were transfixed as the sentence was being read. The three persons were represented by Kampala Advocates, Francis Kabyesiza, Nsubuga Mubiru and MacDosman Kabega.

The state was represented by the Principal State Attorney Charles Ogwal Olwa. In a 32-page judgment read in two hours, Byamugisha said the prosecution had adduced evidence that the convict with others still at large, robbed US$ 240,000 and murdered Wedulo, the police constable who was escorting the money.

Court also found out the three had common intention although they did not physically participate. The convicts stole the money and in the course of the robbery shot Wedulo at Kitoro, Entebbe, Mpigi February 29,1996. Prosecution called 14 witnesses and a number of exhibits were tendered in court. The court said Wavamunno was found with the dollars stolen during the robbery and that he failed to explain how the dollars came into his possession. The court heard that Wavamunno paid US$10,000 of the stolen dollars to the Deputy Third Prime Minister, Mr. Paul Etiang, as part of US$20,000 he owed him.

The US$10,000 notes bore serial numbers similar to those of the stolen money. The court found Etiang's evidence to be substantial. Wavamunno fled to Germany and later to Kenya a few days after the robbery after the Police closed in on him.

He acquired a European passport in the name of Thomas Kabanda which had been first used in 1997. "The acquisition of a European passport in different names which he first used in 1997 and the charms he had in his possession at the time of arrest, was a result of his being aware that he was a wanted man. "This conduct is inconsistent with his innocence," the judge said. Mwesigwa and Baryeijuka were convicted on the statements they made before Magistrate Margaret Tibulya of Buganda Road Court and the Police respectively.

Both admitted knowing Wavamunno and travelling with him by car to Entebbe on the day of the robbery. Baryeijuka in his statement said Wavamunno was communicating to his boys on a walkie-talkie over "the mission."

"They told Kamya they had carried out the mission properly and also handed over to him, in my presence, a polythene bag containing bundles of dollars whose amount I did not know," Baryeijuka had told the Police.

The court said the statements amounted to voluntary confession which were made without duress and coercion.

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