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Court of appeal upholds 38-year jail term for murder convict Abel Ariho

Rukungiri, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Court of Appeal has affirmed a 38-year prison sentence for Abel Ariho, who was convicted for the murder of his grandmother, Evarine Kembaho, a resident of Keitumura Cell in Rukungiri district in 2012. The evidence presented during the trial in the High Court showed that Kembaho’s body was found near her home with injuries to her head and eyes.

Ariho, who lived in a house behind the deceased’s residence, was linked to the crime when police found his abandoned shoes behind her house. He had also disappeared from the village shortly after the murder but was later arrested in connection with the case.

During interrogation, Ariho provided a false account of his whereabouts on the night of the murder, leading to his conviction by High Court Judge Micheal Elubu and a subsequent 38-year prison sentence for murder. Dissatisfied with the conviction and sentence, Ariho appealed to the Court of Appeal in Mbarara in 2013.

He argued that the trial Judge erred in convicting him based on insufficient circumstantial evidence and that his defense of alibi was wrongly rejected. Counsel for the respondent countered these arguments, maintaining that the trial Judge correctly assessed the evidence, including Ariho’s alibi defense, and concluded that the appellant was at the crime scene.

In their judgment, the Court of Appeal Justices Muzamiru Mutangula Kibeedi, Christopher Gashirabake, and Eva Luswata explained that Ariho’s submissions revolved around the insufficiency of circumstantial evidence.

They ruled that the 38-year prison sentence was not unduly harsh, and the trial Judge applied the law correctly to the facts. The Court affirmed the appellant’s sentence and specified that he would serve the term from the date of his conviction.