UK Court To Hear Appeal Against Museveni

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[Africa News Update]

A U.K. court has agreed to hear an appeal by a former Ugandan publisher who won a $31 million default judgment against president Yoweri K. Museveni, only to see it set aside, The Black Star News has learned.

Separately, a chronology of events offered in court papers show that two years ago, the parties were close to a multi-million dollar settlement.

The former Ugandan publisher, Jesse Mashate, now U.K.-based, says his business, The Weekend Digest, was seized by Museveni’s government in 1986.

The default judgment he won last December was vacated after lawyers for Museveni filed a motion early this year. Mashate wants the judgment restored, and he argues in his appeal papers, that Museveni’s lawyers relied on forged documents; that there was a conflict of interest with respect to one law firm; and, that a major firm, Edwin Coe LLP, that moved to vacate the judgment, had no standing in the case.

Regarding conflict of interest, Mashate’s papers argue that Patrick Asiimwe, a lawyer who acted on behalf of Museveni, works for Forest Solicitors—the same firm previously represented Mashate. Mashate’s papers asks whether relevant bodies might sanction the lawyers. Mashate asks that the court's order that he pay Museveni’s legal costs of six thousand and five hundred pounds be suspended until his appeal is heard.

Mashate declined to comment on the recent development.

Is it Forest Solicitors or Edwin Coe? The court will now have to untangle the legal web, in terms of Museveni’s representation, and the conflict of interest allegations.

“We were instructed to represent Museveni and this case is finished,” David Greene, partner at Edwin Coe LLP, told The Black Star News in a recent interview, apparently unaware of the developments on the case.

“It’s true Edwin Coe LLP is the representative of the Government of Uganda. And in this case we represent the president in the case against Mashate,” Greene added.

When asked when the firm assumed representation of president Museveni, he said, “They instructed us when they were sued. The Asiimwes and Magoma were not part or involved as far as I know.” In addition to Asiimwe, he was referring to Peter Magoma-Mashate, who is not related to the former Digest's publisher.

Asked if he considers Asiimwe and Magoma-Mashate to be imposters, Greene said, “I don’t know about that, but what I know is they weren’t part of the court proceedings.”

Greene declined to reveal how much he was paid or to show an invoice: “That is between me and my client.”

A Queen’s Bench Commercial Division Court spokesperson said, “According to our records, case HQ07X01288 is Jesse Mashate against Mr. Yoweri Kaguta. Forest Solicitors represents the defendant Mr. Yoweri Kaguta but our records here don’t show Museveni.”  The Ugandan president's full name is Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

The court paper’s case chronology may explain how Assimwe and Magoma-Mashate became involved in the case.

In a May 23, 2007 letter Museveni instructed Dr. Khiddu Makubuya, Uganda ’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, to get the Mashate judgment vacated.

“You should also file a defense and have this case heard and determined on its merits,” Museveni wrote. “You may work with Mr. Patrick Asiimwe and Mr. Peter Magoma-Mashate both Ugandan barristers in the United Kingdom.”


Greene, the Edwin Coe partner, previously published a letter in Uganda’s Daily Monitor on August 9, 2007 stating Museveni “was not represented by Messrs Mashate and Assimwe (sic). He was represented by the firm – Edwin Coe LLP— which has represented the government of Uganda for very many years.”

In the same letter, Greene also disputes the allegations of a forged document being submitted by Museveni’s team.

The alleged forgery was reported by The Black Star News on July 10, 2007; the newspaper published a copy of the document it obtained.

With its defense papers Museveni’s team had apparently submitted a “legal documents delivery receipt,” listed as item “10” signed by Joan Rwabyomere, Uganda’s High Commissioner to the U.K. and dated “21st Feb 2007,” two months after the default judgment, implying that service arrived way too late. But the handwritten “Feb” seems to have been superimposed on top of “Dec” and the “7” seems to have been superimposed on top of “6” to change the year to 2007 from 2006.

At the same time, what appears to be a copy of the exact “legal documents delivery receipt,” also signed by Rwabyomere, and dated “21st Dec 2006” was also submitted to the court, in sequence.

What makes the case intriguing is that as recent as two years ago Mashate and Museveni were in the final stages of a compensation deal, court papers show.

Mashate met members of the highest rungs of power in the Uganda government.

Between 2004 and 2005 there were negotiations between Mashate and his team and Museveni’s “legal team comprising of his legal advisors Mr. Fox Odoi and Hassan Kashillingi” states the chronology in court papers, adding: “The parties accept English law jurisdiction to govern the negotiations.”

Earlier, in 1997 Mashate met Museveni in London that October, during an international conference, and the president agreed to “pay compensation” of 6.85 million pounds, the court papers show.

Others Mashate’s team met between 2000 and 2004, included Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, who is today minister for internal affairs, the late James Wapakhabulo, and the late Francis Ayume; respectively, at one time, foreign minister, and attorney general.

Yet even though Mashate held talks “for remittance arrangement” with Museveni’s economic affairs advisor, identified in the court papers as Mr. Miyinjo, the talks collapsed.

In July 2005 Mashate’s legal team advised him to seek litigation. In November 2006 he “commences legal proceedings against defendant who was visiting London, U.K. Defendant duly served but opts to ignore service,” the court papers chronology state.

After Mashate won the default and started searching for Museveni’s private assets in the U.K. and EU, states the chronology, “Defendant learns of it and seeks to block enforcement..”

On March 28, 2007, Edwin Coe, “acting for Republic of Uganda ” wrote to the Court “to intercede against enforcement and default judgment,” states the court papers.

“Judgment is set aside and costs awarded against Claimant who is permitted to submit fresh claim within the proceedings,” states the chronology.

In June 2007 Museveni appointed Forest Solicitors “as his substantive lawyers” states the chronology.

The Black Star News could not learn when the current appeal by Mashate will be heard.

Investigative reporter Miwambo writes for The Black Star News from London. He can be reached via


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