One of the Kyadondo East legislator's bail conditions is to not to engage in unlawful demonstration. He is to return to court on May 23.
KAMPALA - Buganda Road Chief Magistrates Court has granted Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) sh1m cash bail, and each of his three sureties bonded sh10m not cash in Kampala.
Kyagulanyi was at the beginning of this week remanded to Luzira Prison after being charged with disobedience of statutory duty.
The charge sheet tendered before the court showed that the musician-turned-politician faces charges of offences he allegedly committed last year. He is said to have held a public meeting without giving notice to any authorized officer or Police.
Following his successful bail application on Thursday shortly after 2 pm local time, Grade One magistrate Esther Nahirya barred the MP from engaging in any unlawful demonstration.
He is expected to report back to court on May 23 - three weeks from today - for trial.
Earlier on Thursday, the court went into a one-hour break after the defence team presented their client's bail application to the court, alongside three sureties - plus arguments for bail.
The prosecution side was also given an opportunity to present their arguments against bail for the legislator.
Kyagulanyi, the accused, followed proceedings remotely from Luzira Prison via the recently-introduced video conferencing system. Standing in a prison court dock, flanked by two prison officers, throughout the session, he became the first suspect ever to appear before the court from Luzira via video conferencing.
Chief Justice Bart Katureebe commissioned the virtual courts mid-last month, where inmates and witnesses off-site can attend court remotely.
The system can connect magistrates to Luzira prison's virtual courts fitted at the male and women's wings using video conferencing facilities.
After about three hours of proceedings, the magistrate decided to stand over the session briefly to allow her time to prepare the judgement on the bail application.
An hour later, she would make the highly-anticipated pronouncement, which sent Kyagulanyi's supporters into celebrations and chanting inside the courtroom.
Before the verdict delivery, the state argued that the court needed to "strike a balance between the individual rights of the applicant and the rights of society at large".
"The balance can only be well-struck by maintaining the applicant in safe lawful detention facilities, like where [Luzira Prison] he is at," said the state attorney.
"In doing so, the accused's rights of safety will be maintained along with the rights of other members of society."
In response, the defence side submitted that " the right to liberty of an individual is a fundamental right" and is "next only to the individual's right to life".
For his bail application, Kyagulanyi presented MPs Patrick Nsamba (Kassanda North), Gaffa Mbwatekamwa (Kasambya County) and former ethics and integrity minister Miria Matembe to stand surety for him.
The prosecution side punched holes in the trio.
To begin with, the state attorney said that at 64, Matembe, a former member of the Pan-African Parliament, is of advanced age and is "not visibly capable to compel the applicant to adhere to the orders of the court".
And about the other sureties: "The two are co-equals of the accused person and do not have any legitimate authority over the applicant".
The state attorney argued further: "For a person to qualify as a substantial surety, consideration is not merely based on status or prestige. The sole consideration is that the surety should be capable of compelling the accused person to appear in court. It is my submission that the sureties presented can only merely request the applicant to report to the court, which request can be ignored."
On the place of abode condition, the prosecution argued that considering that Kyagulanyi lives in Magere, Wakiso district, the Buganda Road Chief Magistrates Court has no jurisdiction over his place of residence.
But while all the sureties present also reside "way outside" the jurisdiction of the court, "the law does not require the sureties to have a place of abode within the court's jurisdiction - unlike the applicant ", the prosecution added.
The defence team's Samuel Muyizi Mulindwa said: "The test to be applied is a qualitative test - and this court can take judicial notice that the sureties have well-known public known residences."
"They [sureties] have a clear public nexus and private bond with the accused person," said lead defence counsel Asuman Basalirwa.
"Substantiality has no relation with age. One of them [Matembe] is a neighbour and the other two are MPs who are always in Parliament with him. They have influence over him. Bail must not be hinged on financial ability," he said.
On the state's recommendations that if the accused is to be granted bail, it should be sh10m and cash, Basalirwa claimed that their client, is also a musician, had several of his concerts cancelled on the orders of the state.
He was also critical of the video conferencing system used to conduct the bail application hearing, saying that "if it was not for the liberty of our client", they would not have submitted to the use of this mode for the application.
The lawyer called it an "ambush", saying they were "not able to consult with our client".
When offered a chance by the magistrate to speak, cautioning him to "refresh from political phrases", Kyagulanyi said: "My business is standing for the truth. My business is standing for what is morally right".
"If standing for what is right will get me out of here, then I will thank God. And if standing for what is right will keep me in prison, then I will thank God even more," he said before the break in the buildup to the verdict delivery.
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