6 August 2007

Uganda: Court Upholds 11-Year Jail Sentence for Soroti Defiler

Soroti — THE Court of Appeal has upheld a sentence of 11 years imprisonment against a man who defiled a 13-year-old girl in Soroti. "We find that the High Court trial judge properly convicted and sentenced the appellant.

"We also find that the sentence of 11 years and six months imprisonment, which the trial judge imposed on the appellant, is neither harsh nor excessive," a panel of three judges ruled.

The panel was headed by the Deputy Chief Justice, Laetitia Mukasa-Kikonyogo.

Other justices were Alice Mpagi-Bahigeine and Steven Kavuma.

Simon Opara of Kangwara Cell B in Soroti district was on May 11, 2002 found guilty of defilement by Justice Faith Mwondha.

He appealed against the conviction arguing that it was harsh and excessive.

Opara argued that the judge was wrong to dismiss his alibi defence and convicted him on a single identifying witness.

The judges concurred with the High Court, saying that the conviction was proper and the sentence was reasonable in the circumstances of the case.

"We find no merit in the appeal and we cannot interfere with the sentencing, which is a discretion of the trial judge, unless the sentence was illegal or manifestly excessive or inadequate," the Court of Appeal said.

Opara defiled the girl on September 3, 1999. The girl had visited her sister at Kangwara Cell B when Opara forced her into having sexual intercourse with him.

The victim's sister was a friend to Opara.

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