13 December 2012

Uganda: Akankwasa's Wife Guilty of Sh900 Million Theft

The wife of former National Forestry Authority (NFA) boss, Damian Akankwasa, has been convicted of the theft of sh900m that belonged to her husband and his two brothers.

Juliet Katusiime appeared before City Hall Court magistrate Juliet Hatanga who convicted her together with her two co-accused - Maj. Godfrey Kyomuhendo and David Ssebuliba - after finding them guilty of the crime.

Katusiime was found guilty of theft and uttering false documents. Prosecution told court that Katusiime falsely held a membership card for KCCC-Empowerment SACCO Limited that purportedly belonged to Annet Basemera.

Court, however, found the accused guilty basing on evidence adduced by six witnesses, which proved that on that day, the money was in the bedroom. The witnesses include Daniel Akankwasa, George Akankwasa, Charles Kasajja and Abdaka Kateregga.

Court also found out that Katusiime had deposited sh150m on the account of the late Edward Basega, which had been dormant since 2005.

"There is no way you can bank on an account that has been dormant for long and even if you are to re-activate it, you have to follow certain procedures," Hatanga said.

Kyomuhendo and Ssebuliba were also convicted for acquiring and retaining stolen property in their homes.

Court also heard that the money was deposited on different bank accounts and used for buying a Toyota Corona.

Hatanga cancelled the trio's bail and sent them back to Luzira Prison until tomorrow when they will be sentenced.

According to prosecution, the accused committed the offence on August 27, 2009 at the couple's residence at Naguru Hill in Nakawa division. Katusiime reportedly stole sh100m belonging to Akankwasa, sh400m for George William Akankwasa and sh400m for John Bagambe - both brothers of Akankwasa.

The state attorney, Robert Mackey, said the maximum sentence of theft is 10 years, while forgery and uttering of false documents carry a maximum sentence of three years. "This culture of impunity that has eroded the fabric of the community has to be dealt with courageously and firmly," Mackey added.

He also asked court for compensation for the material loss suffered by the complainant. "The complainant should also take the property owned by the accused. The property include two houses at Mutungo, a supermarket at Nansana and eight acres of land in west Buganda.

The lawyer of the accused, however, opposed the prosecution's prayer that compensation of material loss be granted for the complainant.

He argued that the state attorney should file a civil suit if he wants to recover all the money.

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