By Michael Odeng and Asege Godiver
The lawyers of a police detective suspected to have stolen recordings of the IGP, Kale Kayihura, have withdrawn from the case pending a petition at the High Court challenging Magistrates’ court orders barring journalists and the public from the case.
The stolen recordings are part of the 87 tapes in which NRM party youth were interviewed in an ongoing investigation into an alleged plot to assassinate Kayihura.
It is alleged that Ronald Poteri, a deputy assistant Inspector of Police (D/AIP) attached to Electoral and Political Crime Department; Kibuli handed over the spy tapes containing confidential information to the Prime Minister’s wife, Jacqueline Mbabazi.
Shaban Ssenywa and Vincent Mugisha on Monday withdrew from the case after the magistrate refused to stay the proceedings pending the High Court petition.
“We applied for an adjournment which was allowed as we wait for the petition to be determined but the trial magistrate refused, saying there is no stay of proceedings before her court,” Mugisha added.
This prompted the defence lawyers to walk out of court, living the accused person in the dock.
Meanwhile, Buganda Road Court Chief Magistrate, Lillian Buchyana, advised Poteri to look for another lawyer and adjourned the case to September 9, 2014 for further hearing.
The journalist under their body Uganda Court Reporter’s Association (UCRA), last week petitioned High Court seeking an order to quash the proceedings before the Magistrates’ court, saying it violates the suspect’s right to a fair hearing.
Citing article 28 of the Constitution, Mugisha said in determination of civil rights, the accused person is entitled to a fair, speedy and public hearing before an independent trial court or tribunal.
“ There were irregularities in court proceedings that is why we want it heard in open court,” he said.
Citing article 17 of the Judicature Act, Mugisha stated that the High Court shall exercise general powers and supervision over Magistrate’s court; hence it has to wait until the High Court petition is heard.
“The High Court decision may determine the end results of the case, hence affecting the all proceeding decision and Judgment,” he added.
He noted that if an irregularity comes to the knowledge of the advocate during and after the hearing of the case or judgment, the advocate shall inform court of it without delay for it to be temporarily stayed.
Poteri is facing charges of wrongful communication and leaking of information under Section 4 (1) of the Official Secret Act.
He was arrested on April 6, 2014 and produced in court on April 25.
It’s alleged that Poteri in March 2014 at Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Directorate (CIID) headquarters in Kampala did pass on confidential information to unauthorized person.
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