Kabaziguruka appeal hearing flops

By Barbra Kabahumuza

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

Untitled12 350x210

The hearing of an appeal, where Nakawa MP Michael Kabaziguruka is challenging his trial at the army court has failed to kick-off, after court fails to constitute a full panel to hear it.

Yesterday, George Kalemera from the office of the Attorney General declined to take part in the hearing until the Coram of five justices is fully constituted.

This prompted justice Remmy Kasule to adjourn the matter to June 5, for ruling whether the case will be heard by a panel of five Justices.

“The order, blocking the army court from prosecuting Kabaziguruka is hereby extended to June 5, 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 instill 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.