Lawyer Male Mabirizi

The Court of Appeal has declined to issue an order blocking the 18 months sentence which was handed to city lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi.

On 15th February, the High Court in Kampala sentenced lawyer Male Mabirizi to 18 months imprisonment over contempt of court.

Mabirizi was recently ordered to pay a fine of Shs300 million over contempt of court but the state has since accused him of continued attacks against judicial officers. The lawyer appealed against the sentence.

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On 21st February, through his lawyers led by Isaac Ssemakadde, Mabirizi petitioned Court of Appeal seeking an order blocking 18 months sentence and Shs 300 million fine till the hearing and disposal of pending applications.

Appearing before Justice Christopher Madrama, Mabirizi’s plea was declined and instead ordered to serve his sentence. Court ruled that Mabirizi didn’t ask for suspension of the sentence but instead he shs 300 million fine.

“This court has no jurisdiction to reverse the order by the High Court in regards the 18months imprisonment because it has been overtaken by events,” he ruled.

Background

Last year, Male Mabirizi dragged Capital Market Authority (CMA) to court challenging its decision to approve Initial Public Offering (IPO) of MTN (U) Ltd. Upon Court ruling, Mabirizi made controversial statements on various social media platforms which are calculated to bring the then presiding Judge Justice Phillip Odoki into contempt and to lower his judicial authority.

“Notice Of Appeal filed challenging the illegal ruling by Judge Phillip Odoki who failed to decide on legality of CMA Uganda approval of MTN IPO sale of shares hiding in a technicality that I lack sufficient interest in ‘a public offer’ ‘shame on him’” Mabirizi allegedly said.

Upon Mabirizi’s statements, the Attorney General petitioned court seeking its power to declare that respondent is in contempt of Court. He also wanted the court to order Mabirizi to be committed to Civil prison for contempt of Court.

In his ruling, the High Court Judge Musa Ssekana said the statements posts tended to lower the authority of Justice Odoki and the High Court, by suggesting that a ruling was not valid or had no legal effect and that it should not be accorded any respect by the public.

“By attacking the authenticity of the ruling, the Respondent’s statements tended to undermine the confidence of the public in whether judicial decisions of Justice Odoki and the High Court or judiciary can be relied on as valid and genuine, which would tend to prejudice the public interest in the administration of justice.” he ruled.

 Justice Ssekana said the statements amounted to contempt in as far as they imputed wrong motives to the Judge’s judicial acts and decisions, and further that they tended to negatively affect the administration of justice by undermining the confidence of the public in the rulings of the said Judge and by extension the High Court.

“This court cannot continue to be in a ‘mute mode’ as the authority of the court is under attack. Such attacks on the judicial officers should be condemned in the strongest terms since they have become ‘endangered species’ by social media and usually cannot defend themselves against such attacks.” he ruled.

Court ordered Mabirizi to stop attacking judicial officers in future and meet the applicant costs of application.

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