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Mixed reactions over use of video conferencing at Bobi Wine’s bail hearing

Magistrate Esther Nahirya, returns to court to deliver her decision in the  Robert Kyagulanyi bail application that was conducted via video link. PHOTO JUDICIARY MEDIA

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The use of video conferencing at the bail application hearing of Kyadondo East MP, Robert Kyagulanyi has attracted mixed reactions.

The video conferencing system was launched by the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe last month for the mention of high profile cases.  The prisons authorities supported the system, on the basis that it would help them cut the costs of bringing suspects to Court for the mention of their cases.

Some members of the public were taken by surprise when they heard that Kyagulanyi would not be brought to court but rather, the video conferencing system would be used.

Boda Boda riders, hawkers of foodstuffs and clothes in Nakawa who spoke to Uganda Radio Network are bitter that Kyagulanyi was not present in Buganda Road Magistrates Court.

Some say it is better to bring a suspect to court so that the magistrate can deliver a ruling upon assessing his or her well being and condition when in the dock.

Hakim Mukasa who is a welder in Nakawa market concurs with Sullah Kizito who is also a trader within the same market that Kyagulanyi should be allowed to exercise his political and economic rights to freedom of expression and also performing at concerts as a musician.

Kizito, a member of the ruling party-National Resistance Movement (NRM), says that he and other party members were concerned about Kyagulanyi’s detention on what he calls a “minor issue and that he should have been brought to court and listen to his bail application.

However, Kyagulanyi’s lawyers are happy about the new technology of video conferencing.

Asuman Basalirwa says the video conferencing system is good in this era of science and technology. He, however, says that it was used illegally which amounts to abuse of the court process.

Basalirwa explains that the law requires the prosecution to file in a proper application explaining clearly the reasons why the person should be tried using the system.  The defence lawyers are supposed to explain whether they are convenient with it or not.

Basalirwa says that the video conferencing system should be used in exceptional cases such as when a suspect or witness is out of the country or ill.

Kyagulanyi’s other lawyer Samuel Muyizi said that if it was not for securing bail for his client, they were going to object to the video conferencing system.

Anthony Wameli, Bobi Wine’s other lawyer says that the technology is highly welcome. He, however, adds that the system doesn’t allow them to consult their clients while court is proceeding.

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