Court declines to use Zoom technology in Abid Alam murder case

Buganda Road Magistrates Court has rejected a request to conduct the hearing of a bail application filed by Businessman Abid Alam through zoom, a popular online conferencing app.

Abid Alam was arrested last week and remanded to Kitalya prison on charges of conspiring with four police officers to defeat the course of justice. According to Prosecution, Abid Alam conspired with police officers to defeat the course of justice by unlawfully releasing confidential information regarding a case file in which he was a prime suspect.

But although the court issued a production order for the hearing of his bail application, the prison authorities said that they could not bring him to court because they wanted to maintain directives put in place by the Government to control the spread of COVID-19.

Abid Alam’s lawyers led by Robert Mackay had asked the court to hear the application using zoom. However, his attempt to create a zoom -link which would connect Kitalya prison to Buganda Road court on his laptop was rejected by the presiding magistrate Ketty Joan Acaa on grounds that there is no law enabling the court to use zoom technology to conduct a session.

The Prosecution led by Janat Kitimbo also challenged the application citing that in criminal cases, the accused must either be present in court or use an audio-visual link which the facility is only installed at Luzira upper prison and the women’s wing. Kitimbo added that in the absence of this, the court cannot confirm if the accused person whose the matter is being handled is either alive or dead.

The magistrate instead issued another production warrant directing prisons to bring Abid Alam to court on May 4, 2020.

Alam’s troubles stem from reports that his agents had been involved in a number of atrocities like attempted murder and unlawful destruction of property in Bukoba, Kassanda District. The agents reportedly injured several employees of Major Arthur Mugyenyi before destroying his three acres of banana plantations, two houses as well as killing animals and fleeing with several of them.

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