High court judge Justice J.W Kwesiga has quashed the appeal case filed by Leonard Otee of Otee Associated advocates in the high court challenging the decision by the chief magistrate of Buganda rd court allowing the Director of Public Prosecution to take over the private investigations against Minister Sam Kutesa, Barbara Kavuya, Blanche Kabuju and Isiah T.Byabashaija.
According to high court, Leonard Otee C/o. Otee Associated Advocates filed a complaint before the Chief Magistrates court, on 1st June 2020 at Buganda Road pursuant to Section 42 of Magistrate’s Courts Act against Hon Sam K. Kuteesa (Minister of Foreign Affairs and three Others) for alleged breach of the Public Health Order (prohibition of Entry into Uganda)
Lawyer Otee Leonard alleged that the Minister of Foreign Affairs issued authorization letter allowing Ethiopian Airlines flight into Uganda Contrary to what the Minister of Health had prohibited.
Court document indicate that, Pursuant to the Complaint lawyer Leonard, Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s Court opened Criminal Case No. KLA-00-CR-CM-0117-2020, Uganda Versus Minister Sam Kuteesa and 3 others where Leonard D. Otee was seeking to commence private prosecution in the above matter on 5th June 2020.
However the Director of Public Prosecutions pursuant to Article 120(3)0 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and Section 43(1) (a) of M.C.A (Cap.16) took over the conduct of the prosecution of the case after writing a letter to Buganda rd court under ref Reference Bug PP001-2020 and Oral submission in open court.
On June 2020, Senior Magistrate Grade One, Stella Maris Amabilis after considering the private prosecutor’s submissions objecting to DPP taking over the conduct of the Criminal proceedings, she made her ruling as follows,
That pursuant to Article 120 (3)0 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, the DPP can take over and continue any criminal proceedings instituted by any other person or authority,
That the DPP has powers to take over criminal proceedings at any point in time and does not need leave of court to do so,
“Therefore, this application for private prosecution is disallowed. The DPP should take over prosecution of this case”.
After the ruling by chief magistrate court Buganda rd, lawyer Leonard On 22nd June 2020 petitioned the High Court pursuant to Section 50 of Criminal Procedure Code Act (Cap.116) for Revision of summarized proceedings and holdings of the Magistrate’s court.
On 24th July 2020, the matter was placed before justice Kwesiga for management and he directed that each party’s right to be heard should be served through filing written submissions and which were done as follows:-
M/S. Biroli & Co. Advocates filed written submission for the counsel Leonard Otee on 6th August 2020 and the DPP filed submissions on 17th August 2020.
“I have examined the proceedings and the relevant Law and in my view Criminal Proceedings are not supposed to be private contest when the Director of Public Prosecution is interested in taking on investigating, prosecution or any other management of the criminal proceedings to prevent possible abuse of the court process,” says Justice Kwesiga in his submission.
Justice Kwesiga says, he found no merits in the petition for Revision adding that there were no errors in the proceedings or Orders of the Magistrate’s Court and they are upheld.
In Justice Kwesiga’s ruling, he adds that, to remove any doubt, these Court Orders:-
The Director of Public Prosecution shall take over and continue with the case to serve interest of Justice in the case, Private Prosecutions in this case are terminated, and that the Complainant shall avail to the DPP any materials relevant for pursuit of their Complaint for appropriate investigations, and that the Ruling and Orders of Her Worship Stella Maris Amabillis, Senior Grade One Magistrate are upheld and the original file be returned to the lower court for further case management.