The Observer (Kampala)

21 January 2013

Uganda: I Will Fight Political Judgment - Mukula

Convicted Soroti Municipality MP Mike Mukula has taken an unorthodox approach to fighting his conviction and four-year jail sentence.

Mukula, a former health minister, and convicted on Friday of embezzlement by the Anti-Corruption court, said he would fight the political prosecution. He was first charged along with former ministers Jim Muhwezi and Dr Alex Kamugisha and State House aide Alice Kaboyo in 2005.

"This is a political prosecution and judgment, which we shall overcome even within prison," Mukula said as he hugged relatives. "I'm going to Luzira prison and others will pay for it. All my relatives, supporters and democratic lovers need not worry because we shall overcome all this. It is just the test of time."

He told The Observer that he had instructed his lawyers to appeal both the conviction and sentence at the High court.

"I said in my final submission last November, I did not smell, or touch this money. Even the judge in her ruling today put it on record that it was returned to Bank of Uganda by a female witness in this case, who is an employee of the ministry of Health," Mukula said.

Stiff punishment

Despite their eagerness to convict, the prosecution was surprisingly lenient on Mukula. Prosecutor Sydney Asubo admitted before court that, "The convict was a first offender with no previous criminal record. The way he had committed the offence warrants a maximum sentence because ... Corruption is a big problem in this country, it is a scourge that is destroying our economy and social values."

But Mukula's lawyer, Ateenyi Tibaijuka, told court that his client deserved a minimum sentence because he had a sick mother who needed his care and several dependants, some of whom are still school-going children. In her judgment, Chief Magistrate Irene Akankwasa sent Mukula to jail for four years, insisting that since he had refunded the money, he deserved a lesser sentence than the five years.

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