JUDICIARY - Yesterday’s nationwide strike by lawyers resulted in the release of a defence counsel who had been arrested on a magistrate’s orders on Wednesday.
Magistrate Beatrice Munganyiki of the Instance Court of Huye handed a one-year jail sentence to Leopold Munderere, saying the latter’s conduct during a separate court proceeding amounted to contempt of court.
Munderere committed the alleged crime on the same day of his imprisonment.
“It is not a strike; we just went to protest the arrest of our colleague which we think contravened article 18 of the Constitution.
The article gives us full liberty while in court,” Gatera Gashabana, the chairman of Kigali Bar Association said. The association brings together all lawyers in the country.
The incarcerated lawyer was charged for protesting Munganyiki’s refusal to give him the floor during proceedings of a Genocide-related trial.
He was immediately charged with contempt of court, which resulted in the one-year sentence.
“We have filed a petition with the High Court,” city lawyer Athanase Rutabingwa said before the court sanctioned Munderere’s release later in the day.
Gashabana said the magistrate was already compromised even before rendering the ‘quick’ verdict to arrest Munderere.
“The problem started when the lawyer requested that the judge should step down because of the vested interest he suspected the judge had in the case,” he said.
Munderere is an attorney to a Genocide suspect in a case that is before the Huye Higher Instance Court.