Kabaziguruka appeal hearing flops

By Barbra Kabahumuza, Michael Odeng

Added 28th February 2017 02:48 PM

The MP petitioned the Constitutional Court seeking a declaration that the General Court Martial was unconstitutionally established

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The hearing of an appeal, where Nakawa MP Michael Kabaziguruka is challenging his trial at the army court failed to kick-off, as parties await a panel of Justices to be constituted to handle the case.

Although the Attorney General did not show up in court on Tuesday, Justice Remmy Kasule, who was slated to preside over the case as a single judge said it will be heard before a full panel.

“The order, blocking the army court from prosecuting Kabaziguruka is hereby extended to March 6, as we wait for a panel to be constituted” he said.

Kabaziguruka who was present in court, recently petitioned the Constitutional Court seeking a declaration that the General Court Martial (GCM) and other military courts were unconstitutionally established.

He contends that these courts are merely tribunals set up for purposes of disciplining errant military officials and not courts of law within the meaning of the Constitution.

Kabaziguruka therefore wants the powers of the military courts limited to only disciplining soldiers rather than charging them (soldiers) and civilians with offences. He also wants court to award him costs of the petition.

He accuses the 6th Parliament of over stepping its powers by creating section 197 of the UPDF Act that  establishes the GCM other than a mere tribunal to instil discipline among UPDF soldiers.

On June 28, 2016, Kabaziguruka together with 23 other people, including soldiers were charged with offences relating to security and treachery (Treason) by court chairman, Lt Gen Andrew Gutti. The offences carry a maximum penalty of death upon conviction.

Prosecution alleges that the accused and others still at large between February and June 2016 at diverse places in Wakiso, Kampala and Luwero districts with intent to prejudice the security or interests of Uganda committed acts of treachery, infiltrate the UPDF and engaged themselves in war like activities against government.

Prosecution further alleges that the accused and others still at large in the same months and places plotted to overthrow the government by use of force of arms.

However, the director of civil litigation in the Attorney General's chambers, Denis Bireije, said Kabaziguruka was rightfully charged before the army court because he allegedly aided and abetted persons to overthrow government.

“As a civilian Kabaziguruka is alleged to have been aiding and abetting persons subject to military law to commit service offences which bring him under the realm of the General Court Martial (GCM)" Bireije stated.

On September 16, 2016 High Court Judge, Patricia Basaza Wasswa, dismissed the application, prompting Kabaziguruka to appeal against the orders at the Court of Appeal.  

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