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Court to Decide on Mabirizi's Application for Temporary Freedom on Notice

Mabirizi wants to be released pending the determination of his intended appeal against the decision to convict and sentence him to 18 months in jail for contempt of Court.
29 Jun 2022 17:01
Male Mabirizi in Court.
The Court of Appeal in Kampala will deliver on notice its decision in which jailed City lawyer Male Mabirizi wants to gain temporary freedom from Luzira Maximum Upper-security prison.

Mabirizi who filed 12 different applications seeking the restoration of his freedom wants to be released pending the determination of his intended appeal against the decision to convict and sentence him to 18 months in jail for contempt of Court.

On February 15th, 2022, High Court  Civil Division Judge Musa Ssekaana found Mabirizi guilty of contempt of court, saying he had continued to use his social media platforms to attack judicial officers.

Ssekaana argued that this was in contempt of another order that he had made on January 27 2022 directing Mabirizi to pay a  fine of 300 Million Shillings the first time he was found guilty for attacking Civil Division Judge Phillip Odoki,  and issued a strong warning against him to desist from attacking judicial officers.

According to the evidence before the Court, the posts were made after Odoki had dismissed Mabirizi’s application that sought to restrain Capital Markets Authority- CMA from extending the MTN Initial Public Offer -IPO window and listing their shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange on grounds that the company was not well incorporated in the country. 

But after being convicted, Mabirizi on March 1 2022 filed an application in the Court of Appeal seeking to be released temporarily on grounds that he filed a notice of appeal challenging Ssekaana's decision and that the intended appeal has a higher and reasonable chance of success. 

According to Mabirizi, there are serious matters of the law relating to a fair hearing, the scope of contempt of court, and the legality of the 18 months’ imprisonment.

He argues that an order of a strong warning cannot be enforced since it doesn't require positive action, like arresting someone and sending them to prison.

Mabirizi also contends that on February 25 2022 the Court of Appeal Justice Christopher Izama Madrama stayed the execution of the 300 million shillings fine and declined to stay his imprisonment on the basis that he needed to file another appeal and that he has since filed a notice of appeal against the February 15th decision and requested to be given proceedings.

Mabirizi therefore in the interest of justice, equity and transparency want to be released until the determination of his intended appeal so as to preserve the rule of law.

When the matter came up for hearing on Wednesday, the Court of Appeal Justices comprised of Muzamiru Mutangula Kibeedi, Lady Justices Irene Mulyagonja, and Eva Luswata informed the parties that the ruling will be on notice.

The Attorney General who was represented by Principal State Attorney Richard Adrole has already filed written submissions asking the court to dismiss Mabirizi's applications and maintain the sentence.

Trouble for Mabirizi started when the  Attorney General informed Justice Ssekaana that Mabirizi had made posts on social media where he accused him  (Ssekaana ) of being biased, incompetent, and not able to head the smallest court of a family, and one who doesn't qualify for any award from Uganda Law Society and even for a Grade Two Magistrate.

The Attorney General also informed Court that the rest of the posts were crafted in a  vulgarized language and that Mabirizi had described a fine of 300 million shillings that was issued against him by Ssekaana in January for contempt of Court as null and void which statement government said was an attack on the judiciary.

 

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