21 September 2017

Tanzania: Health Aspects Raised As Sethi Presses for Bail

Businessman Harbinder Sethi has filed an application before the High Court's Corruption and Economic Crimes Division, seeking bail pending trial in the 350bn/- economic sabotage case he is facing, citing health complications and defective charges, as among reasons.

Judge Winfrida Korosso was yesterday scheduled to hear the application in question. However, the prosecution, through Principal State Attorney Dr Zainab Mango, raised a preliminary point of objection, alleging that the affidavit in support of the application was defective.

Referring to several paragraphs of the affidavit, the trial attorney submitted the document sworn by the businessman was defective as it contained extraneous matters of irrelevant facts, legal arguments and conclusions, and that the verification clause was defective.

The position was vehemently opposed by a team of advocates, including Joseph Makandege, Melchisedeck Lutema, Mohamed Salim, Alex Balomi, Augustine Kusalika, James Yala and Joseph Sungwa, who are jointly representing the businessman.

The advocates told the court that the affidavit was a valid legal document, as the contested paragraphs contained factual matters and that what the prosecution had submitted could not amount to pure point of law and, thus, qualifying to be preliminary points of objections as required by the law.

They submitted that the matters raised by the prosecution were issues for the court to decide and that the prosecutor prematurely argued the main application, which would be heard later on merits.

The judge said she would deliver her ruling on September 26. In the affidavit, the applicant states that illness is among special circumstances entitling him to be bailed out, as he required urgent specialised medical attention, without which he could be unable to survive to see his committal proceedings and the subsequent trial of his case.

Sethi stated that he underwent multiple complex surgical procedures in a Johannesburg Hospital, RSA, twice last year and once in May this year. Elaborating, he said an intragastrical balloon was inserted into his stomach and a specialised diet and regular medical attention were prescribed for him for the entire post procedure.

He explained that in 1994/1995, his lungs collapsed in a motor vehicle accident in Namibia and it took several hours for the doctors to resuscitate him. In 2015, both his lungs collapsed again when he was undergoing emergency operation in Nairobi, Kenya, he further explained.

Sethi stated that given the multiple complex surgical procedures that he underwent as well as the lung problems he was experiencing, he ordinarily and necessarily underwent compulsory intensive specialised monthly medical assessments using specialised sophisticated medical equipment in South Africa.

The businessman further stated that he ordinarily used specialised sophisticated equipment called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure to assist him in breathing, especially at night, an opportunity of which he was now being deprived as a result of his continued incarceration.

"I am also deprived of such opportunity as a result of the Tanzanian Prison Service laws prohibiting prisoners to bring and use such equipment in prison as well as the inability of the Tanzanian Prison Service to provide me with the relevant electrical connection to make the equipment usable," he stated.

The businessman further stated that the offences with which he was charged alongside another businessman, James Rugemalira, lacked the necessary ingredients and that they were all maliciously and cruelly designed to deny him bail.

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