Leaked WhatsApp group chat shows women lawyers’ stinging assessment of MP stalker Isiko

COURT | A woman judge’s decision to order retrial of Brian Isiko and the slow pace of his second prosecution before Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s Court are some of the issues roiling women lawyers.

A leaked WhatsApp group chat of the women lawyers, under their feminist and advocacy association better known by its Spanish acronym as Fida, is telling of just how badly they want to see Isiko in the infamous yellow garb at the lakeside detention facility, Luzira.

Brian Isiko, 24, was in June convicted of charges related to offensive communication and cyber crime and sentenced to two years in jail by Grade One Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu.

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Isiko, a student of YMCA in Jinja, was convicted of own guilty plea of repeatedly sending Kabarole Woman MP Sylvia Rwabwogo love messages as well as inundating her with calls to express his love.

The conviction and subsequent sentence divided opinion with some rights activities claiming it was too harsh while those who champion the women cause argued that it was deterrent and sent the right messages that women cannot continue suffering silently as men ignore their ‘no’.

However, the ‘pro-Isiko group won as their appeal before the Criminal Division of the High Court saw Judge Jane Frances Abodo order a retrial before the same court but under the direction of Grade One Magistrate Stella Amabilis.

“I wonder why a woman judge had to order for retrial in the first place,” one of the lawyers on the WhatsApp group named “Senior Fida Members” said as discussion on Isiko’s trial was broached.

Officially, the matter is between the State and Isiko but Fida is involved as a group advocating for women’s rights.

To effectively monitor the case, the association assigned Victoria Nakintu Katamba, one of their lawyers, to follow the proceedings in court, legally termed as “watching brief.”

However, it appears that Nakintu, who sits on the Fida board, keeps on updating members on the WhatsApp on which they call Isiko “mentally disturbed.”

Isiko’s issues are not helped by Rwabwogo’s testimony on resumption of the trial that the lustful youngster from Jinja has continued to send her romantic text messages despite the court woes.

Although the MP had sought to have the latest evidence admissible in court, the defence team argued against it. Amabilis struck it down.

The WhatsApp group, Crime24 understands, is ‘home’ to top women lawyers, judges, prosecutors and magistrates, including Amabilis.

Several senior judges such as Margaret Tibulya of the Anti-Corruption Court, Henrietta Wolayo and Lydia Mugambe Ssali of the civil division branch of the High Court, are some members of the WhatsApp group.

One of the members on the group questioned why the case was being adjourned from time to time and “why on earth would a young boy treat an honourable Member of Parliament like that” and “we should do something about it.”

Another lawyer responded to the message, saying: “The magistrate [Amabilis] handling [the] case is a Fida member and on this forum, so I’m sure she has followed all your concerns and she will handle.”

Amabilis did not respond to any of the messages related to the case that she is handling and there is no indication to suggest that she read or followed the discussion by her fellow Fida members since belonging to a social media group is not proof of actively participating on discourse.

However, Esta Nambayo, the Judiciary chief registrar — whose role include supervising magistrates —  said: “The defence lawyers should raise the matter before the magistrate the next time they come to court and she [Amabilis] will pronounce herself on the matter.”

But Ramadhan Waiswa, Isiko’s lawyer, told this website how he was surprised by the revelations.

“I’m thinking I will first try to establish the facts. And if it’s true then I will report to my client,” he said.

Under the principle of the sub judice rule, no party is allowed to make public statements on a matter that is before court. However, whether the discussion on WhatsApp group amounts to flouting of the rule or not is itself a subject of legal opinion although the presence of Amabilis on the group would be damning for Fida.

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