Mbarara- Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine has asked judges not to allow inmates take advantage of plea bargain to undermine justice.
He said while plea bargain is meant to reduce case backlog, people should not commit offences, thinking that they will get lesser sentences under the system.
Justice Bamwine was addressing 1,820 inmates at Mbarara Main Prison on Monday during sensitisation on plea bargain.
“If you commit the offence and it provides for a maximum of death sentence, then the punishment you get after pleading guilty cannot be 10 years imprisonment; it must be a sentence that meets the justice of the case,” he said.
The Principal Judge said people should not think that plea bargaining means light sentences all through, arguing that it depends on offences committed and that both the accused and the wronged have to get justice.
In response to the complaint by the inmates that judges sometimes reject the agreed upon low sentences, Justice Bamwine said sometimes the accused bribe lawyers of the government and those of the accused to lower them. “The accused person and the defense counsel can collude and do what Ugandans know best; compromise justice. If it so happens, the only person who will ensure that justice can be done is the judge because he or she will not allow a travesty of justice. The judge will not allow a sentence that will not meet the justice of the case to be imposed,” he said.
Justice Bamwine added that despite the fact that the Judiciary is poorly facilitated, convicts should have sentences commensurate to the crimes committed.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Justice Mike Chibita, asked state prosecutors to work hard to reduce the case backlog at Mbarara High Court.
There are 856 inmates at Mbarara Main Prison committed to High Court and 665 on remand.
“We are looking at post-case backlog era. Kampala and Mpigi are looking towards post-case backlog era before the end of the year but Mbarara is still lagging behind, so we need to also work towards that,” Justice Chibita said.
He said government needs to streamline plea bargain so as it can help the country in reducing case backlog and congestion in prisons.