27 January 2013

Uganda: Kazinda Demands to Walk Free

The interdicted Principal Accountant in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Geoffrey Kazinda, has asked the Constitutional court to quash all criminal charges against him and release him unconditionally.

Kazinda last November filed a petition in the Constitutional court seeking, among other things, a declaration that his piecemeal trial in separate courts 'is not only unconstitutional but amounts to selective prosecution.'Last month, Kazinda filed an application seeking to halt the hearing of the said cases until his earlier petition is disposed of.

On Monday, during the hearing of his application, one of Kazinda's lawyers, Ambrose Tebyasa Matovu, told a panel of three judges, led by Steven Kavuma: "I pray that this Constitutional court would be delighted to issue an injunction on the various charges against the applicant which are brought in piecemeal, thus denying the applicant time to concentrate and defend himself."

In reply on behalf of the Attorney General, State prosecutor Margaret Nabakooza submitted that the Constitutional court had no option but to dismiss Kazinda's petition because he was deliberately derailing his own prosecution by filing a frivolous petition.

"The applicant's petition is intended to curtail the constitutional mandate and independence of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) regarding his judicial functions. No evidence has been relayed to show that the DPP has performed contrary to the Constitution. There are well-laid procedures in the court regarding the release of a person on remand."

Kazinda petitioned the Constitutional court, saying he is being selectively prosecuted. He further argued that section 11 of the Anti-Corruption Act under which he is charged with abuse of office, is in contravention of article 28 of the Constitution. Kazinda argues that he wants to be released from prison unconditionally because he was previously granted bail by the Anti-Corruption court.

Nabakooza further argued that there is no sufficient reason advanced by Kazinda to have his trial halted. After listening to both parties, Kavuma and judges Remmy Kasule and Augustine Nshimye said they would give their ruling on notice. Kazinda, who had previously been reported to be very sick, this time stood in the applicant's dock for over an hour, sipping mineral water throughout. His other lawyers in this application include Isaac Walukagga and Godfrey Ojok Odu.

Kazinda is on January 28, 2013 expected back before Chief Magistrate Irene Akankwasa in the Anti-Corruption court to answer charges of forgery and causing financial loss.

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