Barlow murderers hit brick wall, face noose

A CRIMINAL quartet convicted in the killing of former Mwanza Regional Police Commander (RPC) Liberatus Barlow, are to be hanged to death.

Muganyizi Michael, Magige Marwa, alias Tatoo, Abdallah Petro, alias Amos Ndayi and Abdulrahman Athuman had their appeal dismissed in its entirety by the Court of Appeal.

The murder convicts had lodged an appeal at the country’s highest temple of justice, in an attempt to challenge the findings and verdict given by the High Court in Mwanza.

“From the totality of the prosecution account drawn from the confessional statements of the appellants, as corroborated with the fingerprint evidence, the charge against (them) was proved to the hilt,” Justices Mwanaisha Kwariko, Mary Levira and Abraham Mwampashi ruled.

“The appellants’ defence is not at all compatible with their innocence. Thus, we find no reason to fault the trial court’s finding on this. In the final analysis, the appeal therefore fails and it is accordingly, hereby, dismissed in its entirety,” the panel added.

During hearing of the appeal, the appellants had contended, among others, that the conviction and sentence was wrongly based on unlawful inconclusive and uncorroborated evidence of visual identification, confession statements and that of fingerprints profile test.

In their judgment delivered recently, the justices found the evidence of visual identification by the wife of the deceased was weak, unreliable and not watertight, ought not to have been acted upon by the trial court in convicting the appellants since the incident took place at night.

They were, however, quick to point out that the first three appellants, that is, Michael, Marwa and Petro confessed in their cautioned statements to have been involved in the fateful incident in which the deceased was killed.

The justices noted that in his detailed cautioned statement, Michael confessed to have shot the deceased, while Marwa gave account in his statement on what happened on the fateful night to the day he was arrested.

Marwa also confessed to having participated in surrounding the late RPC’s car and that he saw Michael shooting the deceased at point-blank range to death.

The justices noted, Petro, on his part, also confessed to have been among the bandits who invaded and murdered Barlow. In his statement, he named and implicated Athuman and Michael, whom he claims is his brother.

“We have thoroughly passed through the appellants’ cautioned statements, and observed that the said three appellants gave account in detail on what transpired on the fateful night to the time they were arrested,” they said.

According to the justices, the appellants explained the role each of them played and some of the details given by the appellants in their respective cautioned statements could not be given by any other person but by the appellants themselves.

“From what we have observed we are satisfied that, as rightly found by the trial court, the statements contained nothing but the truth,” they said.

The justices further observed that, in the cautioned statements by Michael, Marwa and Petro, all the ingredients of the offence of murder were established.

The appellants stated in their respective cautioned statements that in the fateful night, they had been on the robbery spree, where they invaded and committed robbery at different places including a bar at Pasiansi Kiseke area, a kiosk at Lumala and a bar or supermarket of Mama Mzungu.

Thereafter, they went and settled at Kitangiri cemetery to divide among themselves the loot.

From the cemetery they again took to the streets and that is when they encountered RPC Barlow, who was in the company of his wife in his car, parked in front of the gate of the house of the deceased’s wife.

The appellants regarded the encounter as another robbery spree opportunity. They therefore invaded and surrounded the car and started by accusing the deceased of beaming and blinding them by his car headlights.

When asked by the deceased to introduce themselves, the appellants said they were police officers. The deceased who by then was the incumbent Mwanza RPC, realised that the appellants were not police officers.

He rebuked them and it was when he bent down looking like he was picking something under the car seat when Michael shot him in the neck.

Regarding Athuman’s conviction, the justices found that the trial court rightly acted on the confession by Petro which also implicated him to find him guilty after the same had been corroborated by the fingerprints evidence.

There was an attempt by appellants’ counsel to challenge the fingerprints evidence, questioning the competence of witnesses who collected such evidence from the deceased’s car. In their findings, however, the justices found such evidence reliable.

They also dismissed the complaint by appellants that such evidence was tampered with and the chain of custody was broken. The justices pointed out that the nature and the uniqueness of the relevant exhibit, that is, fingerprints, makes it very impossible to even think that it could be tampered with.

“No two persons including twins have ever been found to have the same fingerprints. It is also scientifically proven that fingerprints vary between one’s own fingers. The friction ridges which create fingerprints are formed while inside the womb and grow proportionally as the baby grows,” they said.





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