24 February 2013

Uganda: Kutesa, Nasasira Killed Chogm Trial - Baku

Ministers exert a lot of undue influence on state institutions, which ends up in miscarriage of justice, former deputy Inspector General of Government Raphael Baku has said.

In an interview a day before he left office last week, Mr Baku blamed this influence for his failed prosecution of ministers Sam Kutesa, John Nasasira and Mwesigwa Rukutana. The ministers were on trial for their role in the mismanagement of the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) funds.

"They [politicians] exercise influence, either informal or formal within the system, especially in countries where the systems are not so strong, that the individuals tend to be more powerful than the institutions. So they have overriding influence on the individuals responsible for investigations and prosecutions. I think that could be part of the explanation why they were easily let off the hook, Baku told The Observer on Thursday.

While acquitting the three ministers, Judge Paul Mugamba, the head of the Anti-Corruption court reportedly said that the prosecution had failed to make its case against the three ministers. "Clearly, the evidence assembled by the prosecution cuts no ice. It shows nowhere that the accused persons are culpable," the judge ruled. Kutesa, speaking to the media then said "Truth has triumphed over lies and intrigue." Kutesa and his co-accused couldn't be reached for a comment on Baku's latest remarks.

But Baku insists he had a strong case. Baku said it was very difficult to prosecute people who are in very senior leadership positions. There are two problems, he said. "One, especially in the case of Prof Gilbert Bukenya, there were some witnesses we wanted to bring from Kenya but we didn't because the judge wasn't willing to extend the time for us to handle the case. Our evidence wasn't complete and the case was prematurely terminated."

On Bukenya's case, Mugamba said: "No evidence was laid to show that A1 (Prof. Bukenya) connived with A2 (Motorcare directors), and I acquit A1 and A2 on charges of fraudulent practice." The judge made his ruling of 'no case to answer' basing on the evidence of four prosecution witnesses, including the permanent secretary Ministry of Works and Transport, Charles Muganzi.

Prosecution led by Sydney Asubo alleged that Prof Bukenya connived and or colluded with Motorcare and high-handedly, directed the award of contract to them to supply 80 units of BMW R 1200 RT police outrider motorcycles intended for use during Chogm, 2007, without following procurement rules. Baku said on Thursday that the witnesses couldn't bring themselves to testify against the ministers.

"The people who were involved in the transactions were civil servants. Our witnesses of necessity had to be the civil servants who were present and of course the relationship between them and the politicians was awkward because they couldn't give evidence against their political leaders. Their evidence was compromised," Baku said.

But it was not all doom and gloom for Baku. In the interview, he lists several triumphs and memorable cases.

See full interview: here

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