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Uganda: Soldier handed 80-year jail term for murdering four family members

A Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldier who murdered four family members, including the unborn child in Alebtong District last year was on Wednesday sentenced to 80 years in prison.

The UPDF General Court Martial chaired by Col JB Katongole convicted Pte Isaac Newton Okello after he pleaded guilty to murdering his brother and three other family members on December 12, 2018.

The accused admitted he actually shot dead his 35-year-old brother Emmy Okello, his seven-month pregnant sister-in-law Betty Arao, 29, and their 3-year-old son Elvis Okello.

During the sentencing session at Alebtong District headquarters on Wednesday, Pte Okello pleaded for lenience saying he has a huge family burden.

The defense lawyer, Lt Godfrey Orishaba Kasiiku, told court that his client did not intend to shoot all the four family members.

“The convict’s intention on that fateful day was to kill Emmy Okello, but a seven-month pregnant Betty Arao and her son Elvis Okullo died accidentally,” Lt Orishaba said.

He further argued that as a trained soldier, the convict found it proper to eliminate his enemy, who happened to be his brother before he was eliminated.

“It is true the convict committed this barbaric and erroneous act because when his father died he was harassed by his stepbrother Okello Emmy. The convict complained to the clan leaders that the family of his stepmother had threatened to eliminate him, but they failed to solve the problem,” the defence lawyer said.

Lt Orishaba prayed to court that since the convict has contributed to the peace Uganda is now enjoying, he should be given a lenient sentence.

In his submission, the state prosecutor Lt Alex Rasto Mukhwana told court it was not the first time the convict was facing similar charges of murder.

He informed court the convict at one point stole a gun number UG56031694 with 90 rounds of ammunition from a colleague, causing him (Okello) to desert the army as he feared the consequences his action would cause.

Col Katongole said the UPDF encourages its officers to save money and buy their own properties.

“As a soldier of UPDF, it is very wrong to say that unequal distribution of your father’s property was among the reasons that caused you to kill your brother and his family,” he said before ruling that Pte Okello should spend 80 years in prison to serve as an example to other soldiers who want to kill with impunity.

“More so, it is important to note that society has to be protected from the offender’s barbaric conduct by confining him and keeping him away from the public so that society is protected,” he stated.

“Considering all the submissions from both the defense counsel and the state prosecutor, this court has sentenced you RA219341, Pt Okello Isaac Newton to 80 years imprisonment for each of the four counts, including murder of an unborn child,” Col Katongole ruled.

By Daily Monitor

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