A panel of three Court of Appeal Justices comprising Ezekiel Muhanguzi, Helen Obura and Elizabeth Musoke has set aside the life sentence and instead handed Arinaitwe a 30-year jail term.
However, they deducted five years and three months Arinaitwe spent on remand from 1998 to 2003 when he was convicted. The justices directed prison authorities to start counting the remaining 24 years and nine months from 2003.
This implies that Arinaitwe will now only serve eight years since he has been in jail for sixteen years following his conviction in 2003 after he was found guilty of murdering, Goetz who was in Uganda to follow up on HIV/AIDS funds.
High court Judge, Kagaba Rwamisazi had sentenced Arinaitwe to death. However, the convict benefited from the Supreme court judgment in 2009, which stated that whoever had not been executed after five years in prison should have his or her sentence reduced to life imprisonment. Arinaitwe appeared before Justice Joseph Murangira who substituted his death sentence to life imprisonment.
Through his lawyer, Elizabeth Asiimwe, Arinaitwe petitioned the Court of Appeal to quash the life imprisonment sentence or reduce it. Asiimwe told court that Arinaitwe represented himself in High court presided over by Rwamisazi yet he didn’t have sufficient legal knowledge to challenge the evidence that was laid before court.
She argued that if Arinaitwe had a lawyer, he would have been acquitted because the principal witness, Paddy Ssemanda made contradictory testimony and failed to place the convict at the scene of crime. Justice Rwamisazi sentenced Arinaitwe to death, arguing that there was overwhelming evidence including two pistols and a knife recovered from the ceiling in Kololo where he was hiding for about three months before he was arrested.
The knife reportedly fitted perfectly into the sheath Arinaitwe forgot in room 321 at Equatorial hotel, now Equatorial Shopping Mall where Cecilia was stabbed 30 times.
Asiimwe noted that if Arinaitwe knew the law, he would have challenged Ssemanda’s testimony simply because he reportedly told court in different statements that he first saw the convict’s face at Equatorial hotel but later said he hadn’t seen him.
Asiimwe faulted the judge for failure to evaluate evidence on court record and address his mind legally before delivering his judgment. She also told court that the record before court clearly shows that Arinaitwe wasn’t involved in the murder. She asked court to quash the sentence or reduce it.
However, the state prosecutor, Nelly Asiku opposed the appeal and supported Arinaitwe’s conviction and sentence. He asked court to at least sentence Arinaitwe to 36 years in prison, arguing that he was given a state lawyer to represent him but refused and opted to represent himself.
In their judgment read by the Court of Appeal registrar, Jesse Byaruhanga this afternoon, the Court of Appeal justices faulted the lower court for failure to consider Arinaitwe’s age by the time he committed the crime.
They noted that Arinaitwe was just a young man who was remorseful and had just joined Makerere University to pursue his Bachelors of Law degree. "
The judge also argued that the convict needs a rehabilitative sentence so that he can go back to the community. The judges also considered records from Luzira Prisons indicating that Arinaitwe has participated in a number of rehabilitation programs, and is remorseful.