9 February 2013

Uganda: Captain Mike Mukula's Lawyers Ask High Court to Acquit Him

The lawyers representing the jailed Soroti Municipality MP Capt. Mike Mukula have asked the Anti-Corruption Court to acquit him.

The lawyers argued that Mukula was wrongly convicted and sentenced to four years in prison yet he was not an employee of government.

A team of defence lawyers led by David Mpanga argued that ministers are political appointees and it was wrong for the magistrate to convict Mukula of embezzlement.

Mpanga told Justice David Wangutusi that for charges of embezzlement to stand, a person must be an employee of government, servant, or public officer, which Mukula was not.

He further argued that legally, the definition of employee does not relate to ministers, saying by putting that into consideration, the Chief Magistrate Irene Akankwasa erred in law when she found Mukula to have embezzled sh210m Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) funds.

The defence lawyers also stated that the charge sheet was ambiguous, because it did not clearly indicate where the offence was committed.

"The charge should have been clear as to where the offence was committed and the accused should have the know knowledge of what offence he committed," Mpanga said. The other lawyers are Ernest Kalibbala, Oscar Kambona, George Omunyakol, Paul Ekochu and Michael Nakibinge Walugembe.

They argued that the magistrate was biased when she made up her mind before Mukula could defend himself against the charge.

Ateenyi Tibaijuka submitted that the magistrate adopted a biased approach and denied Mukula a fair hearing by only relying on the evidence given by the Prosecution witnesses and totally disregarded the defence evidence.

Ateenyi said Mukula never received the money much as he signed for it and since he did not receive the money it was wrong for the magistrate to convict him of embezzlement.

The hearing resumes on Monday.

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