Mugoya Biasaali, the former supervisor of a private security company, SGA has been sentenced to 45 years in prison by the General Court Martial following his own plea of guilt for the murder of Bugiri Sheikh Masood Mutumba.
Mutumba was gunned down on February 14, 2020, at Lwemba trading center in Bugiri district. In the sentence delivered today Monday by a seven-member panel led by Army court chairperson, Brig General Freeman Robert Mugabe, Mugoya will effectively serve 41 years in prison, after the three years, seven months, and 15 days he spent on remand were deducted off.
Biasaali recently confessed to the murder, citing vengeance and after his conviction last week, his lawyer, Capt Nsubuga Busagwa, requested for a lenient sentence, arguing that Biasaali is a first-time offender, has been in prison since February 2020, has nine children from two wives, and is their sole breadwinner.
The prosecution, led by Lt. Alex Lasto Mukhwana, called for a deterrent sentence, citing the prevalence of such crimes and the fact that the deceased had pursued legal avenues to resolve a land dispute, only to be maliciously and unlawfully killed. After considering all the submissions, including mitigating and aggravating factors, the Court Martial decided to impose a 41-year jail term, which they deemed appropriate.
In February 2020, Biasaali was jointly charged with six others; James Balidhusa, a local defense unit (LDU) officer; John Mary Jagenda, a special hire driver; Alex Mugoya alias Waiswa, a security guard; Amos Kojja; Sulaiman Konta; Charles Mwandha; and Ashraf Mugoya, all residents of Lwemba village in Bugiri district.
Last month, during further prosecution hearings, Biasaali, through his lawyer, Capt Busagwa, expressed a desire to change his plea. Initially, he had denied the charges in 2020 but later confessed his sole responsibility for the murder, citing vengeance as the motive. His co-accused continue to plead not guilty and remain on remand.
In 2020, when the army prosecutor, Lt. Col. Raphael Mugisha, presented the brief facts of the case to Biasaali, stating that he had conspired with his co-accused to kill Sheikh Mutumba, he asserted that he acted alone.
“I want to reaffirm that I killed the Sheikh alone, and I didn't have anyone else involved,” said Biasaali firmly.
The prosecutor maintained that despite Biasaali's claim, he must have received assistance since the weapon used, with registration number, UG POL 13283692, belonged to Uganda police and not a private security firm. Sheikh Mutumba’s brother, Arajab Kanabura, had previously mentioned that Biasaali had accomplices, as they were seen in a meeting prior to the murder.
A ten-year-old who witnessed the shooting outside Mutumba’s home mentioned that he had accompanied the deceased to buy sugar when he saw a stranger following them on foot. The child initially believed the stranger was a visitor, but later, the suspect, wearing a black hood, took cover behind a tree in their compound before shooting the cleric in the head. Sheikh Mutumba was answering a phone call when he was killed.
Relatives of the deceased Mutumba have expressed mixed reactions to the sentence, with some believing it is befitting, while others argue that a death sentence would have been more appropriate for Biasaali, given the circumstances. These sentiments include those of widow Safiat Nabirye, who added that the court martial should also find Biasaali's co-accused guilty and sentence them to death.
She noted that the deceased left about 18 children and is now struggling to care for them, as the co-accused allegedly hindered her from developing the disputed land that led to her husband's death.