The Chief Registrar of Uganda’s Courts will on January 18 rule whether the magistrate handling the landmark homophobic smear conspiracy case against three Christian anti–gay preachers is biased against the accused.
In a letter dated December 15, 2011, seen by Behind the Mask, the accused preachers claim that the trial magistrate, John Patrick Wekesa has “constantly threatened them throughout the trial.”
The letter is also copied to the Chief Magistrate Buganda Road Court in Kampala where the case is being heard.
The preachers allegedly conspired to claim that a fellow pastors Robert Kayanja, the Head of Miracle Centre Cathedral in Kampala sodomised young men in his church.
The three accused are Pastor Solomon Male of Arising for Christ Ministries, Pastor Martin Sempa of Makerere Community Church and Pastor Michael Kyazze of Omega Healing Centre
The protest letter, signed by the three preachers and Pastor Robert Kayiira also of Omega, has halted the trial. The accused were supposed to begin their defence after the trial magistrate ruled last month that they had a case to answer. The case file has been returned to the Chief Magistrate Vincent Mugabo.
The letter drafted by the defence team reads in part, “We write to register our complaint against the trial magistrate in the above matter his worship John Wekesa. In particular in both his professional and ethical conduct in regard to the case.”
Edward Sekabanja, the defence counsel for the accused, today (Wednesday January 11) told BTM in Kampala that they await a new magistrate to take on the matter
Sekabanja added, “But there was a reshuffle [of the judiciary] even before our complaint. I understand Wekesa has been transferred to Nakawa Court in Kampala.”
He also said that the Chief Magistrate of the Buganda road Court where the trial is taking place has also been transferred in the judicial reshuffle. It is not clear whether the numerous complaints by the accused preachers affected the judicial transfers, however a number of other officers including State Prosecutors have also been reallocated new stations.
The prosecution led by Stephen Asaba alleges that in 2008 and 2009 at various places within Kampala district, the accused “conspired to cause injury to Kayanja’s personality and reputation”.
By Kikonyogo Kivumbi
From Behind the Mask