Court dismisses Male Mabirizi’s appeals, sent back to Kitalya prison

Male Mabirizi in court.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Jailed lawyer Male Mabirizi has today lost two applications to the government and ordered by the High Court Civil Division Judge Boniface Wamala to pay costs on both cases.

One application sought an interim stay of execution of the order issued by Civil Division Judge Musa Ssekaana on February 15th, 2022 ordering for his arrest and subsequent committal to civil prison for contempt of court.

This was after Mabirizi was found guilty for the second time for continued attack and abuse of judicial officers on his social media platforms.

He was subsequently sentenced to 18 months in jail and has since been at Kitalya Min Max Prison for the last 22 days. Mabirizi’s second application sought an temporary injunction also seeking to halt the implementation of the order to arrest him, and he had amended it to include a prayer to have him released from prison.

But the application for interim stay was the first one to be dismissed on the request of State Attorney Hillary Nathan Ebila on grounds that there was nothing left to halt since the order was already implemented and he is currently in prison.

In this application, Mabirizi was arguing that he was not given a right to be heard before Justice Ssekaana arrived at the decision to send him to prison.

While delivering his decision, Justice Wamala agreed with the Attorney General’s representative Ebila that the application had since been overtaken by events and that the issues Mabirizi was raising were already taken to the Court of Appeal.

Therefore, this he said was an abuse of court process and accordingly dismissed the application with costs. This was in the proceedings that started at around 10am and ended at about 1pm.

But shortly after the decision, Mabirizi who at that time was left with two applications before Justice Wamala asked to fix the application for temporary stay of execution with hopes that he would be released from prison. The case was accordingly fixed for 3pm.

When court resumed proceedings, Mabirizi argued that he should be released from prison pending an application seeking to quash the entire judgement of Ssekaana on grounds that stay of execution doesn’t get complete until the whole decision has been implemented.

Court heard that Ssekaana sent Mabirizi to serve 540 days in prison and he has so far spent 22 days and therefore it’s not possible to stay the execution of the decision because he hasn’t yet served the whole punishment and legally, one cannot say that the implementation is complete.

Mabirizi was responding to the Attorney General’s representative Ebila who maintained the same reasoning in both applications that they were all overtaken by events, nothing left for court to decide but what was remaining was simply in court for academic purposes.

After hearing all the submissions, the Judge took a break to write his decision and reconvened court at around 5:30pm where he dismissed the application for temporary stay of execution with costs giving reasons like he had earlier held in the morning that it was also overtaken by events.

According to the Judge, in civil matters once an arrest has been effected, the only way a person can get freedom is when the proceedings that led to arrest have been set aside.

Wamala added that unless the proceedings have been quashed, one cannot stay the execution of an arrest which has already occurred. After the dismissal of the second application, Mabirizi who looked dejected, frustrated and disappointed asked court to give him a hearing date for his case seeking to set aside Ssekaana’s decision.

He demanded to be heard immediately although it was almost 6pm, saying that it shouldn’t be given as an excuse because during the petition seeking to scrap off the age limit from the constitution, the Constitutional Court in Mbale sat even up to 1am.

As a result, Mabirizi’s request to be heard immediately was rejected and directed to return to court on March 16th 2022 for hearing of his third application. He has now been taken back to continue serving his sentence at Kitalya Min Max Prison.

On January 27th 2022, Justice Ssekaana ordered Mabirizi to pay a fine of 300 million shillings for the first time he found him guilty for contempt of court and he was equally condemned to pay costs to the government.

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