A team of 1MCB barristers is assisting six men and one woman in their appeals before the Uganda Court of Appeal. Each was sentenced to death following their conviction for the robbery and murder of local politician Leonard Isingoma in 2005: the appellants are appealing both conviction and sentence.
The appeals against sentence share a common thread: international jurisprudence requires that, where domestic law permits capital punishment, it must be reserved for ‘the rarest of the rare’.
The appeals against conviction raise a number of distinct grounds. They include the ineffective assistance of counsel where one advocate represented all seven defendants notwithstanding that some of them relied on ‘cut throat’ defences, misdirection as to the burden and standard of proof applicable within a ‘voir dire’ to determine the admissibility of confession evidence, errors in relation to the cross-admissibility of co-defendants’ out of court statements, misdirection as to the meaning of ‘common intention’, and reliance on weak and unreliable circumstantial evidence.
The team is working with Justice Centres Uganda and the Centre for Capital Punishment Studies: it comprises Tanya Murshed, Gwawr Thomas, Alex Chakmakjian, Bernadette Smith and Ariane Adam.