5 February 2013

Uganda: Magistrate Declines to Issue Summons for Army Chief

The Nakawa Chief Magistrate, Joy Kabaje has declined to issue criminal summons for the Chief of Defence Forces, General Aronda Nyakairima, to face charges of treason.

The charges were brought through private prosecution by the Luwero Woman Member of Parliament, Brenda Nabukenya, who wants the army chief charged over comments he made recently during a press conference.

Kabaje said she could not issue criminal summons against the accused because the complaint was not accompanied by a letter from a local council chairperson or chief of the area where the accused (Nyakairima) is alleged to have committed the offence, as required by the Magistrates Court Act.

The chief magistrate, further said her court also lacks the jurisdiction to try Gen. Aronda Nyakairima on treason charges. She said treason offences are tried by the High Court.

Kabaje made the comments on Monday during the hearing of the petition.

Nabukenya and her lawyer, Julius Galisonga, had turned up to pick the criminal summons for Aronda.

The case was adjourned to today February 5 when court will make its decision whether to summon Nyakairima or dismiss the case.

In his submissions however, Galisonga said although the magistrate's court lacks the jurisdiction to try the accused for treason, there is a legal requirement for the accused to be committed by the Chief Magistrate for trial by the High Court.

"These proceedings are preliminary to the actual trial which is supposed to be before the High court," said Galisonga.

"It is, therefore, our prayer that this court signs the complaint of oath and issue us with criminal summons so that we may serve the accused and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)," he added.

He also argued that a letter from the LC or local chief was not mandatory.

The lawyer argued that under the Kampala Capital City Authority set-up, there are no chiefs or local councils.

Nabukenya alleges that on January 23, 2013, while addressing a press conference at the Ministry of Defence headquarters in Mbuya, Gen. Nyakairima made utterances to the effect that the army could overturn the Government because Parliament was not serious.

She alleges that Nyakairima's comments amounted to criminal offences, including inciting the army to commit a crime, treason, offences against the State, concealment of treason and terrorism.

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