THE Court of Appeal has dismissed the objections raised by the Attorney General (AG) to oppose hearing of an appeal filed by Mr Christian Laurent Rutagatina, challenging his deregistration from the roll of advocates for professional misconduct.
Justices January Msoffe, Steven Bwana and Sauda Mjasiri ruled last week that the two grounds of objection had no merit.
In the objections, the AG, through Principal State Attorney Michael Luena, had alleged that the appeal was hopelessly time-barred and there was no proper notice of appeal filed.
The justices noted that it was correct that the judgment of the High Court, the subject matter of the appeal, was delivered on September 6, 2006 and further that the notice of appeal was filed after two years and two months, thus appearing on the face of it to be time-barred.
However, they said, the averment by Mr Rutagatina (appellant) supported by the record were exonerated. They observed from the records that the appellant had applied and was granted extension of time within which to file his notice of appeal.
Furthermore, the judges said, the appellant had also applied to the Registrar and obtained a certificate of delay covering the period from September 6, 2006 to April 27, last year and instituted his appeal on May 7, last year, thus within the prescribed period.
"We see no reason to fault the appellant's version. Therefore, the first point of preliminary objection (concerning the filing of the appeal out of the required time) is not sustained," the justices of the Appeals Court ruled.
Regarding the second point of the objection on the incompetence of the appeal for want of proper notice of appeal, the justices noted that the same hinged on the finding of the court on the first point.
They said that had they found that the notice of appeal was time-barred, then the second point would stand as the appeal would have become incompetent.
"However, the converse is the position. Accordingly, the preliminary objection raised herein has no merit. It is dismissed in its entirety," the justices conclusively ruled.
Mr Rutagatina was convicted by the Advocates Committee in 2005 of having being involved in demanding money from his client, one Clavery Mtindo Ngalapa, for the purpose of bribing a judge and court officials in a case involving a 54m/- claim.
The committee's decision was upheld by a High Court panel in 2006. Court records show that on November 18, 2005, the Advocates Committee handed down a decision in which it found Mr Rutagatina guilty of professional misconduct.
The Committee, thereafter, directed that his name should be deleted from the roll of advocates. Having being aggrieved by the decision, Mr Rutagatina lodged an appeal before the High Court.
But the said three judges of the High Court dismissed the appeal in its entirety and agreed with the findings of the committee that his conduct had the aim of getting more money from his client.
They found that Mr Rutagatina had written a chit containing names with a certain amount against each name and presented the same to his client (Ngalaba) as the basis for his getting more money with which to bribe court officials to enable Ngalaba's claim succeed.
"It is established beyond shadow of doubt that the appellant (Rutagatina) put forward a demand of money to his client and in blunt language told his client he was going to use the money to bribe court officials," the High Court panel had ruled.
According to the judges, the appellant was a person who hatched the evil scheme in which he demanded money from his client which he purported to buy justice.
"Like the Advocates Committee, we find this professional misconduct bordering on criminal behaviour," they held.