Mukono Court: Criminal Charges Against Businessman Thrown Out

mukono court criminal charges against businessman thrown out
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The Mukono Chief Magistrate’s Court has dismissed the criminal charges filed by Major Mark Wanyama against local businessman, Jackson Twinamasiko. Twinamasiko, represented by his lawyer, Steven Turyatunga, requested that the court dismiss the criminal charges related to land disputes against him until the resolution of the civil suits pending before the High Court.

Twinamasiko’s legal issues began on August 1, 2023, when he visited the Crime Investigations Department (CID) in Kibuli to follow up on a complaint he had filed against Ben Mugisha, a police officer attached to the land protection desk who had cordoned off his workplace during nighttime without official summons. Unexpectedly, Twinamasiko found himself under arrest during this visit. He was charged with causing intentional property damage, removal of boundaries, and trespassing on land claimed by Major Mark Wanyama on Mbeya Island in Mpunge Sub-County, Mukono district.

On Monday, Mukono Chief Magistrate Roselyn Nsenge Turyatuga concurred with Turyatunga that Twinamasiko was mistakenly arrested and charged for cases that were already before the High Court. The decision was primarily based on the evidence of ongoing civil suits before the High Court, with both parties seeking to have the court determine land ownership. Both the complainant and the accused had filed civil suits before the High Court, requesting that they be declared the owners of the land, with different hearing dates scheduled.

Mukono Chief Magistrate Nsenge ruled, “There is a potential for clashing with the High Court decision once this court allows the criminal proceedings, the proceedings in this matter are hereby stayed pending the High Court decision.” The High Court also issued a temporary injunction allowing the defendant to continue using the land and restricting the complainant from entering the same land.

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During the preliminary objection hearing, the prosecution, represented by Collins Ouma, insisted that the matter before the court involved possession rather than ownership, claiming the trespass occurred on June 9, 2021. However, Turyatunga maintained that the soldier had used military force to take over land previously in civilian possession, going against an interim court order obtained on November 27, 2019, and a subsequent temporary injunction issued in February 2020.

Nsenge stated before her ruling, “Since no one owns the land, and they are both still in court asking it to decide the owner, charges of trespass, malicious damage, and removal of boundaries shall have been determined by the high court. Think of what will happen in case the respondent is convicted of criminal trespass and then the high court declares him the owner of the contested land.”

Turyatunga commended the court for staying the proceedings, as they could create double jeopardy after the complainant decided to criminalize the matter, which is inherently civil.

Wanyama’s Lawyer Jabar Luyima expressed discontent with the court’s decision, stating that it was based on evidence without merit. He has not confirmed whether he has received instructions from his client to appeal.

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