19 February 2013

Tanzania: Fresh Hearing of Muro Case Requested

THE prosecution asked the High Court to order a fresh hearing of the case against former Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation journalist Jerry Muro, who was accused of conspiracy with two others and receiving 10 million bribe from ex-accountant of Bagamoyo District Council, Michael Wage.

State Attorney Awamu Mbangwa told Judge Fauz Twaib that the trial magistrate erred in law for not recording properly court proceedings, which led the magistrate who drew judgment of the case to reach a wrong decision. According to the state attorney, the case was handled by two magistrates at the lower court of Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court.

Principal Resident Magistrate Gabriel Mirumbe conducted the trial proceedings. Thereafter, Resident Magistrate Frank Moshi issued the highly contested ruling. "The proceedings, exhibits and testimony of the witnesses were not properly recorded by the trial magistrate," Mr Mbagwa submitted, adding, "Some of the statements recorded in the proceedings could not be understood.

This led the magistrate who wrote the judgment to reach unfair conclusions." In the judgment given on November 30, 2011, Magistrate Moshi acquitted the journalist with his co-accused, Deogratius Mgasa and Edmund Kapama, after concluding that the prosecution had miserably failed to prove the charges against them beyond reasonable doubt.

The state attorney gave few examples to substantiate his submissions, including lack of records of a register book of Sea Cliff Hotel, which was tendered as an exhibit during the trial. Other missing records include that of the CD for CCTV Camera which was earlier shown in court.

"Though the CD could not function as required, but there was nowhere in the proceedings showing such event. We therefore request this court to remit the case back to the trial court for fresh hearing in the interest of justice," the trial attorney submitted.

Responding to the submissions, Advocate Richard Rweyongeza asked the judge to dismiss the request in its entirety for lack of merits. He submitted that the prosecution has not complained on how its evidence at the trial was handled following improper recording by the magistrate.

"The magistrate who wrote the judgment assessed properly the evidence given before reaching his conclusion," the advocate submitted. Supporting the arguments by his co-advocate, Counsel Majura Magafu pointed out that what the prosecution was doing amounted to "forum shopping."

According to him, after the prosecution had lost the case to one magistrate, they were not seeking to look for a conviction before another magistrate. Such trend, he submitted, was not acceptable in law. After hearing the arguments from both parties, the judge said he would deliver his judgment on the matter on April 29.

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