Renowned human rights lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde has opposed the move by the Director of Public Prosecutions to take over the privately instituted suit of offensive communication and criminal libel against him.
Last month, lawyer Robert Rutaro Muhairwe filed a criminal case against Ssemakadde for allegedly attacking the Civil Division High Court Judge, Musa Ssekaana on his Twitter handle using obscene words meant to embarrass him and lower his self-esteem in front of right-thinking members of the society.
He asked the court to issue summons against Ssemakadde to appear and answer for criminal libel, offences prejudicial to judicial proceedings and offensive communication. When the matter came up on Wednesday before Buganda Grade One Magistrate Marion Mangeni, State Attorney Ivan Kyazze told court that he had instructions from the DPP to take over the case against lawyer Ssemakadde and continue with its prosecution with immediate effect.
Kyazze asked the court to compel Rutaro to surrender to the DPP all information and documents pertaining to the case against Ssemakadde. He further asked the court to inform both Ssemakadde and Rutaro that all communication in connection to this matter should be directed to the office of the DPP at Buganda Road Court.
In response, Rutaro through his lawyer Precious Nahabwe agreed with the DPP’s decision and promised to avail the necessary information concerning the matter. However, Ssemakadde through his lawyers led by Dr. Daniel Walyemera objected to DPP’s proposal to take over the matter, saying that it is a violation of their client’s right to a fair trial.
Walyemera told the court that Ssemakadde is already standing trial in court on similar offences, which are being investigated by the Criminal Investigations Directorate and is out on police bond. He argued that the double proceedings against his client is an abuse of the court process.
Walyemera asked the magistrate to terminate proceedings against Ssemakadde both at Kibuli and the court. Marion Mangeni adjourned the matter to April 4th 2022 to allow the prosecution to respond to the submissions by Ssemakadde’s legal team before making her ruling.
Ssemakadde’s troubles started on February 15th 2022 when he stood in solidarity with Male Mabirizi shortly after Justice Ssekaana sentenced him to 18 months in jail for contempt of court. He reportedly took to his Twitter handle and blasted Justice Ssekaana for the decision.