September 13, 2013

Lawyers Want Anti-Corruption Court Judgements Nullified

The Constitutional Court has been asked to nullify all the judgments and proceedings made by the suspended Anti Corruption Court since its inception in 2009.

Muwema argued that the constitution demands that an accused person be given a fair, speedy and public trial before an impartial and competent court.
Muwema argued that the constitution demands that an accused person be given a fair, speedy and public trial before an impartial and competent court.

The request was made on Thursday by city advocates; Fred Muwema, Friday Kagolo and Richard Mukasa Mulema, who argued that the Magistrates Court attached to High Court, Anti Corruption Division is an incompetent court unknown to the law.

Muwema argued that the constitution demands that an accused person be given a fair, speedy and public trial before an impartial and competent court.

He explained at length that should the Constitutional Court declare that the proceedings of the magistrates’ court are a nullity, then even those judgments and any proceedings before the high court should also be declared null and void since they arise from the lower court.

The hearing of this substantive petition came exactly two months after the Constitutional Court issued an interim injunction staying all the criminal proceedings that were going on in the Anti Corruption Division of the High Court, and those arising from the magistrates’ court pending the determination of this main petition.

The lawyers argued that the substantive petition Number Two that is challenging the judicial duties executed by the Magistrate Court attached to the Anti Corruption Division is unconstitutional.

The lawyers were making their spirited submissions before the Constitutional Court presided over by a panel of five justices led by Acting Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma. Other justices on the bench included; Remmy Kasule, Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Solomy Balungi Bossa and Lillian Tibatemwa.

This matter arose on January 7 this year when a concerned lawyer Davis Wesley Tusingwire, dragged the Attorney General to the Constitutional Court over the same. The court was established in 2009 by Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki to specifically combat corruption cases.

Should the Constitutional Court agree with the submissions of these lawyers, it will mean that all the convicts now on remand will have to be released from prison.

Further, it will imply that the current 251 pending cases at the Anti Corruption Court will be dismissed.

In his petition, Tusingwire argues that it is very clear that magistrates are not judicial officers of the high court under should be annulled.

But on the contrary, George Kalemera who represented the Attorney General argued that there is no illegality for the magistrates to perform judicial duties at the anti-graft court on grounds that in establishing the Anti Corruption Division of the High Court, the Chief Justice, based on Article 133 (a) and 232 of the constitution that empowers him to establish a special court to combat corruption.

Upon listening to both sides, Justice Kavuma who led the panel; said the judgment will be delivered on notice.

The affected Magistrates have since been re-deployed to other magisterial areas.

Chief Magistrate Irene Akankawsa and Sarah Langa Siu, a Grade One Magistrate, have since been re-deployed at Buganda Road Court in the city.

Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine in a July 22 letter; noted that the judiciary had asked magistrates to handle all corruption-related cases in their respective magisterial areas throughout the country as they wait for the final disposal and decision in this main petition.

Prior to the freezing of the Anti Corruption Court activities, all corruption cases had to be brought to the Kololo-based-court for disposal.

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