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Laura Valabhji’s appeal will be heard during the August session |09 July 2022

The Court of Appeal says it will hear the case brought by Laura Valabhji against The Republic at its next session in August instead of this month, since there are not enough justices to sit on the panel.

Mrs Valabhji is appealing the Supreme Court’s ruling of February 23 of this year, which denied her bail, in relation to a case concerning firearms and prevention of terrorism.

In its sitting yesterday morning, the president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Anthony Fernando, said that only justice Fiona Robinson was available for now, since two justices – Samia Andre and himself – have recused themselves from the case, while the two others – Justices Dr Mathilda Twomey and Lillian Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza – are presently overseas.

Appeal cases must be heard by at least three Justices at the discretion of the President of the Court of Appeal and Justice Fernando stressed that although two justices can sit for a case, it is always best to have three for all cases.

An emotional Laura Valabhji explained that moving the hearing to August poses a problem for her as it was not guaranteed she would have counsel then.

She also argued that the delay was causing her unnecessary stress and since her appeal was a matter of urgency, the Court of Appeal should ensure her case is heard in July.

Although Justice Fernando said the court understood and sympathised with her and had looked at all other options, it was impossible at this moment to accommodate her request, and the case had to be included in the August session.

The Court of Appeal is scheduled to sit on August 1.

At yesterday’s sitting, the two sides agreed to file the written submission for the appeal by July 27 in time for the August session.

Although a date has not been set, Justice Fernando told the court it was highly likely Mrs Valabhji’s appeal will be scheduled for August 5, 2022. This will be confirmed next week once the Court of Appeal’s causelist is prepared.

Mrs Valabhji, who was arrested in December last year along with her husband Mukesh Valabhji, was her own counsel at today’s mention, while the Republic is being represented by Counsel Stephen Powles.


Patsy Canaya

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