Kitatta Fails In High Court Bid To Stop Trial By Court Martial

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The High Court Criminal Division has dismissed an application by Abdullah Kitatta, the patron of Boda boda 2010 challenging his trial in the Military General Court martial. Kitatta petitioned the High Court Criminal Division to declare his trial in the Military General Court martial illegal and violates his rights as provided in Article 28 of the Ugandan Constitution.

Through his lawyer, Jimmy Mayanja, Kitatta sued the Attorney General, Col. Gideon Katinda, Maj. John Bizimana, Maj. Raphael Mugisha, Capt. Samuel Masereje and Lt. Ambrose Baguma, all officers of the military court. He argued that Article 120 (3) of the Constitution empowers the DPP to take over, continue or discontinue his case at the General Court Martial because he is a civilian.

“Despite DPP being notified that I am a civilian, I was charged before the General Court Martial  which neglects the constitutional mandate imposed by Article 120 of the Constitution to have civilians prosecuted before the magistrate’s court or high court,” reads the application in part. He also wanted court to order the respondents to pay him damages and costs of the application with interest for violating his rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

However, on Wednesday afternoon, Justice Yasin Nyanzi of the High Court Criminal Division dismissed the application, saying his court lacks jurisdictions to hear Kitatta’s application. He also said the court lacks powers to declare the orders sought by the applicant.

“As a judge of High Court Criminal Division, how do I order anybody to pay costs of an application? And when it comes to general damages. How do I order that such an amount be paid by the DPP and the Attorney General,” asked the judge.

He said the high court the High Court Civil Division would have been better placed to hear Kitatta’s application since it is the one vested with powers to declare the orders he was seeking. Kitatta is charged together with ten others for unlawful possession of firearms and Military equipment contrary to section 161 of the UPDF Act.

The military equipment includes two pistols, SMG rifle and 50 rounds of ammunition among others. The other suspects are Matia Ssenfuka, Joel Kibirige, Hassan Ssemata, Jonathan Kayondo, Ssengooba Hassan, Sande Ssemwogerere, John Ssebandeke, Hussein Mugema, Fred Bwanika and Amon Twinomujuni.

On Monday afternoon, Private Richard Kasaija, an operative attached to the Chieftaincy Military Intelligence testified against Kitatta and his group. Kasaija told court that they picked up Kasaija from a toilet at Vine Hotel in Wakaliga in Rubaga division on January 20 this year. He explained that on searching Kitatta’s Hotel room they recovered a loaded pistol.

They also recovered an SMG gun and another pistol with 15 rounds of ammunitions from his vehicle parked in the hotel yard. Kitatta broke down in tears as prosecution asked the officer to identify the gold plated pistol. The trial will resume on June 12th 2018 after the UPDF general court martial.

-URN
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