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Lawyer Ssemakadde asks court to halt trial for lack of jurisdiction

Isaac Ssemakadde

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde has asked Buganda Road Magistrates Court to halt hearing of the case in which he was summoned to be charged with offensive communication until the determination of an application where he is challenging the legality of the proceedings.

Ssemakadde was summoned to appear before court presided over by Grade One Magistrate Marion Mangeni to be charged on three offenses stemming from his posts on his Twitter handle where he allegedly  abused High Court Judge Musa Ssekaana.

The charges were levied against Ssemakadde by a private prosecutor Robert Rutaro Muhairwe who said that when Ssekaana directed lawyer Male Mabirizi to pay 300 million Shillings for attacking judicial officers, he (Ssemakadde)  went on Twitter to abuse the judge in messages crafted in vulgar language which the prosecutor contends was aimed at embarrassing Ssekaana, defame him and lower his self esteem in the right thinking members of the society.

On Friday, Ssemakadde instead didn’t appear in court to take plea on charges as summoned. Instead, he hired three law firms who jointly sent five lawyers namely Derrick Bazekuketta,  Daniel Walyemela, Gawaya Tegule, Michael Nakibinge Walugembe and Pius Katumba Busobozi to represent him.

These have told court that there was no need for Ssemakadde to appear in person saying that the law states that when a person sends his lawyers, it means that he has entered appearance.

They later asked court to halt the proceedings against Ssemakadde saying that there is no way Ssemakadde is going to take plea when Buganda Road Court has no jurisdiction to try offenses allegedly committed in a virtual space.

According to Ssemakadde’s lawyers, in crimes related to computer misuse, unless one proves that the posts were made while in Uganda or within the jurisdiction of Buganda Road Court, one cannot be tried for the same.

Accordingly, they have asked court to halt proceedings against him until such a time when court will make a decision on whether they have jurisdiction to try him or not.

But on his part, Rutaro through his lawyer Precious Nahabwe asked court to go ahead with the case and issue a warrant of arrest against Ssemakadde, saying that he has not given any reason whatsoever for his absence and that he has not even appeared virtually in court.

But after listening to all submissions, the Magistrate Mangeni adjourned the case to March 16th 2022 to decide on whether to proceed with the case or not.

Mangeni has thus extended the criminal summons to Ssemakadde until then.

Ssemakadde’s troubles started last month after standing in solidarity with Mabirizi who was sent to jail for 18 months by Ssekaana for his actions of continued attack on judicial officers.

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