Mathew Kirabo as he aarrived at Mukono High Court on Tuesday. Inset, Desire Mirembe, the deceased.

Mathew Kirabo Sentenced to 30 Years over Killing Girlfriend

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High Court Judge Henry Kaweesi has sentenced Dr. Mathew Kirabo to 30 years in prison for murdering his girlfriend Desire Mirembe.

Kirabo was convicted in his absentia after jumping bail, something which forced court to try him even if he was not around.

Clad in a light grey T shirt, a grey trouser and black shoes, Kirabo got to Mukono High Court on Tuesday morning at 10:00am. On handcuffs, Kirabo got out of the Prisons bus in tight security holding a bottle of soda and two note books.

He was directed to the court cell where he was kept for almost an hour before the proceeding of his case.

The Judge entered the well-attended courtroom ready to resume with the case but when he observed, the convict was missing in court. He therefore adjourned the court to call for the convict.

He later came back and started the case. Kirabo’s defence team has been led by Counsel Henry Kunya whereas the prosecution team has been led by the Senior State Attorney Happiness Ainebyona.

Ainebyona told court that Kirabo was convicted in his absentia of murdering his girlfriend Desire Mirembe (19) who was medical student at Makerere University in May 2022.

She said that Kirabo had been arrested from Kenya by Interpol on September 13, 2023 upon a warrant of arrest issued by the Mukono High Court. Kenya police later handed the convict over to Ugandan Police.

Ainebyona sought for a death penalty, citing the severity of the case and Kirabo’s conduct during the trial. She noted that the convict together with his legal team comprising of Dalton Opwonya and Hassan Kato faked COVID-19 tests in 2021, which they used to claim he was sick, before he escaped from the country.

“The convict is in court after a warrant of arrest was issued for him. Before his sentencing, judgment was given. He was convicted and the case was adjourned pending his arrest,” Ainebyona said.

Mathew Kirabo as he aarrived at Mukono High Court on Tuesday. Inset, Desire Mirembe, the deceased.

Emmanuel Musoke, the deceased’s father, requested the court to consider an appropriate sentence while acknowledging that no punishment could undo his daughter’s loss. Kirabo’s new lawyer, Henry Kunya, argued that Kirabo’s previous attorneys had acted without his consent given the fact that he was not in the country.

Kunya claimed that Kirabo sought refuge in Kenya and did not flee the country. He pleaded for leniency, emphasizing Kirabo’s status as a first-time offender.

“The convict was not on the run, if he was he would have gone further than Kenya and also tried to change his identity including name and face but he didn’t,” Kunya said.

In his address to the court, Kirabo expressed condolences to the deceased’s family and stated that he sought refuge due to what he perceived as unfair evidence presented in court.

“Court accepted a video, which was taken after I was tortured in Nalufenya Police cell incriminating me so I put together videos and audios, which I used to seek refuge in another country,” he said. He cited his career as a practicing doctor and appealed for a merciful sentence.

Presiding Judge Kaweesa considered arguments from both sides and sentenced Kirabo to 30 years in prison. “I have carefully considered that the convict is a first time offender, the fact that to the deceased’s father, her life cannot be brought back. The convict is sentenced to 30 years in prison minus the period spent on remand of one month and seven days. His sentence therefore totals to 29 years, 10 months and 23 days,” Justice Kaweesa ruled.

Mirembe was murdered in July 2015 by Kirabo and her body dumped in a sugarcane plantation in Lugazi Municipality. Kirabo was subsequently arrested and he confessed before Police as he led the investigators to the crime scene.

The prosecution presented 15 witnesses and relied on incriminating video evidence, leading to Kirabo’s conviction in absentia in May 2022 after he absconded from court in November 2021. Kirabo’s arrest by Interpol in Kenya, extradition to Uganda, and subsequent remand to Luzira prison in September 2023 marked a pivotal point in the prolonged legal proceedings amounting to over nine years.


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