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Court of Appeal Holds Landmark Session in Kigezi Region, Hearing 33 Criminal Appeals

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In a historic move, the Court of Appeal extended its services to the Kigezi region for the first time, conducting a special session at Kabale High Court in Kabale District. The session, presided over by Uganda’s Deputy Chief Justice, Richard Buteera, marked a significant development in the legal landscape, aiming to streamline the judicial process.

A total of 33 criminal appeal cases are being heard, covering a range of offenses. Among them, 17 cases relate to murder, 3 to robbery, 11 to defilement, 1 to rape, and 1 to manslaughter. Justices Muzamiru Kibwedi, Christopher Gashirabake, and Oscar Kihika are overseeing these special sessions.

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During the opening ceremony at Kabale High Court premises in Kikungiri, Kabale district, Deputy Chief Justice Buteera revealed that submissions from both plaintiffs’ and defendants’ lawyers have been filed. The emphasis was on expediting the judicial process, saving time for judges in analyzing cases and delivering rulings. Buteera advocated for the appointment of a mediator to prioritize Arbitration and Conciliation, facilitating reconciliation between parties and addressing the issue of case backlog.

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Julius Kisembo, the officer in charge of Ndorwa government prison, disclosed that among the inmates appearing before the Court of Appeal are condemned prisoners. Though the initial count was 36 cases, two accused individuals were released after serving sentences, and another passed away in 2017. Kisembo assured cooperation between the prison department and the Judiciary for the seamless running of the appeal session.

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Superintendent of Police Yiga Gonzaga, Officer in Charge of the Criminal Department for the Kigezi region, and Lawyer Justus Muhangi, the Chairperson for Advocates in the Kigezi region, highlighted the challenges previously faced due to the absence of a Court of Appeal in Kigezi. They explained that many cases had to be heard at the High Court because plaintiffs found it challenging to travel to Kampala. Muhangi shared instances where he had to abandon cases before the Court of Appeal due to the considerable distance between Kigezi and Kampala.

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