By: BETTY NDAGIRE and ANTHONY WESAKA
KAMPALA: After spending three nights in police cells, Mr Andrew Karamagi, a 25-year-old human rights lawyer, was yesterday arraigned in court and charged for grabbing Attorney General Peter Nyombi’s speech.
Mr Karamagi was charged with being a nuisance at the Buganda Road Court. He denied the charges though he first admitted to being guilty of the same but later changed to a plea of ‘not guilty’.
Grade One Magistrate Simon Kintu released Mr Karamagi on a cash bail of Shs1 million. His three sureties were each bonded at Shs10 million, not cash. Court fixed March 6, to start hearing the case since prosecution said it has completed investigations into the matter.
On Friday last week, the legal fraternity that had gathered at the High Court premises was treated to drama as Mr Karamagi walked to the podium where Mr Nyombi was giving his remarks and whispered into his ears before grabbing his speech. He was immediately whisked away by the police to the nearby Central Police Station to record a statement where he has been detained since.
Lawyers Abdu Katuntu, Nicholas Opiyo and Asuman Basalirwa represented Mr Karamagi who looked composed in the dock as the charges were read to him.
Yesterday’s proceedings were closely followed by a host of human rights activists, including retired Bishop Zac Niringye of the Black Monday movement. Outside the court room, some activists displayed placards reading, “Nyombi should resign, Arrest thieves in government not Karamagi, Free Andrew”.
The grabbing of Mr Nyombi’s speech by the lawyer comes at the time Mr Nyombi and the lawyers’ body, the Uganda Law Society (ULS), are at logger heads.
The law society resolved late last year to suspend Mr Nyombi for having allegedly misadvised President Museveni on a number of controversial issues, including the re-appointment of retired Justice Benjamin Odoki as Chief Justice and the appointment of Gen Aronda Nyakairima, a serving army officer, as Internal Affairs minister, before resigning.
Prosecution led by Ms Nelly Asiku, alleges that on January 31 at the High Court premises in Kampala, without lawful authority, Mr Karamagi grabbed a written speech from Mr Nyombi, thereby causing annoyance to the victim. The State further alleges that this act by Mr Karamagi was an inconvenience to the public that was listening to the AG’s speech.