Ugandan magistrate rejects fresh demands from anti-gay clergymen

A magistrate has rejected calls by four homophobic clergymen associated with Uganda’s Anti Homosexuality Bill for a retrial in a criminal case concerning a smear campaign against a fellow preacher.

The accused are alleged to have “conspired to cause injury to Kayanja’s personality and reputation” by claiming he sodomised boys at his church.

The four accused are pastors Solomon Male of Arising for Christ Ministries, Martin Sempa of Makerere Community Church, Michael Kyazze and Robert Kayiira of the Omega Healing Centre. Also accused are businesswoman Dorothy Kyomuhendo, and local musician David Mukalazi.

Kayanja heads the Rubaga Miracle Centre, and also runs the global Robert Kayanja Ministries.

The defence lawyers had wanted a retrial, claiming that the previous magistrate, John Patrick Wekesa had not adequately recorded the proceedings because Kayanja had bribed him (Wekesa) with a car and lots of money.

The lawyers for the accused wanted magistrate Borore to recall all the twenty two state witnesses to restart the trial under a new magistrate. But the magistrate declined, saying there was no discrepancies with what Wekesa recorded of the proceedings.

The homophobic pastors are represented by lawyers Paul Rutisya, Kato Sekabanja, Isaac Walukagga, and Edward Akankwasa.

Citing Section 144 of Uganda’s the Magistrates Court Act, Rutisya said once a case is assigned to another magistrate, the defence team is empowered to apply to recall witnesses.

The then trial magistrate Patrick Wekesa has since been transferred to Nakawa Court near Kampala in line with the routine judicial movement of officers.

Police investigated claims that Wekesa had been bribed by Kayanja, but he was early this year cleared of any wrong doing.

State prosecutor Stephen Asaba told the court on Monday that recalling the 22 witnesses would be a difficult task to accomplish since some of them are abroad. He added that the certified record of proceedings tallies with what transpired since January 2011.

In his ruling, the magistrate stated that according to the record which he had scrutinised, the defence was availed the opportunity to cross-examine all the witnesses.

The magistrate agreed with the prosecutor, noting that it would be tedious to recall some of the witnesses who live and work overseas.

Accordingly, he scheduled the defence hearing for June 7. Speaking outside shortly after the ruling, the accused and their lawyers said they would deliberate on their next course of action.

The accused pastors face five years in jail if convicted under Ugandan law.

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