The start of the defence case against four homophobic Christian preachers in Uganda failed to take off on Wednesday 4 April in Kampala after queries from lawyers stalled proceedings.
The lawyers are representing the four anti-gay pastors in a landmark homophobic smear case brought by rival pastor, Robert Kayanja, over claims that he sodomised members of his congregation.
Lawyers for the four accused clergymen told the court presided over by Magistrate Julius Borore that they wanted the court to make available a hard copy of court proceedings as recorded by the previous magistrate in the case, John Patrick Wekesa. They said they would need this in order to advise their clients accordingly.
The defence lawyers told the new magistrate that they were not sure Wekesa had recorded the right proceedings.
This new twist in the case comes a week after Ugandan police cleared Wekesa over claims that he had been compromised by the claimant, Pastor Robert Kayanja. The homophobic preachers and their agents had also claimed that Wekesa had been given a car by Kayanja.
The police report cleared Magistrate Wekesa of any wrongdoing.
It was not clear if Borore had now taken over the case or whether he was just sitting in for Wekesa. However, Paul Rutisya, one of the lawyers representing the four clergymen against Kayanja, told reporters recently that they had secured a court order from the Chief Registrar of the High Court Henry Adonyo asking Wekesa to step down from hearing the case.
Wekesa has been trying the case which involves pastors Solomon Male, Martin Sempa, Michael Kyazze and Robert Kayiira against their evangelical rival Kayanja.
The case has been adjourned to May 21, 2012 after the defence lawyers get copies of the proceedings.
When Wekesa ruled last year that the pastors had a case to answer for tarnishing Kayanja’s name, two women, Grace Nabifo and Evelyn Chawo, associated with the four accused alleged that the magistrate (Wekesa) had received gifts of a car and cash from Kayanja.
Wekesa denied the allegations but hearing the case was halted until the police could complete investigations into the matter. According to a police report, the claims were false.