I expected acquittal, says Mukata’s lawyer

Chilanga MP Keith Mukata at Lusaka's Magistrate Court -Picture by Tenson Mkhala

The Court of Appeal has upheld former Chilanga UPND member of parliament Keith Mukata’s death sentence saying the lower court rightly convicted him given the evidence it was presented with.

But his lawyer, Milner Katolo says the appellant expected an acquittal since the court had not established the type of firearm that killed the deceased.

On February 28 last year, High Court Judge Susan Wanjelani convicted and sentenced Mukata to death by hanging for murdering his security guard, Namakambwa Kalilakwenda, on May 6, 2017 at his law firm, AKM Legal Practitioners, in Lusaka’s Rhodes Park.

Mukata later appealed against his conviction and sentence asking the court to acquit him.

When the matter came up for judgement, Thursday, Court of Appeal Deputy President Chalwe Mchenga, sitting together with Justices Betty Majula and Sichinga, dismissed the appeal and upheld the death sentence slapped on Mukata in a 104-paged judgment.

Judge Mchenga said the court had looked at the sentence in light of the evidence that was before the trial judge and equally upheld the death sentence.

The learned Judge further ruled that the evidence before the trial judge did not disclose any extenuating circumstances to warrant the imposition of a sentence, other than the one the trial charge imposed.

“We uphold the appellant’s conviction on the charge of murder. We have also looked at the sentence, in the light of the evidence that was before the trial judge and we equally uphold the sentence. The evidence before the trial judge did not disclose any extenuating circumstances to warrant the imposition of a sentence other than the one that she imposed,” said judge Mchenga.

Mukata was being represented by Milner Joseph Katolo of Milner Legal Practitioners.

And in an interview after the appeal was thrown out, Katolo said he expected an acquittal as the court had until now not established the type of the firearm that killed the deceased.

Katolo said he would visit Mukobeko Maximum Security Facility in Kabwe and get instructions from his client on the way forward.

“We are going to read it (judgment), analyse it, we are currently going to prison to meet our client to obtain instructions on what happens next. I was hopeful of an acquittal because the important question still remains unanswered. Where the judge says the caliber of the gun that caused the death is unknown. Even here, they have not answered that question. It still remains unknown. Whereas Keith’s gun, the caliber was known. So if it was known, it should have connected to a known gun but now, it’s to an unknown gun. So what is that unknown gun? The question remains unanswered,” said Katolo.

In her judgment, Justice Wanjelani said she was convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Mukata’s guard died from gun shots which were discharged by him.

She had further said Mukata’s testimony that more cartridges were found outside the gate was false and based on hearsay evidence.

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