18 April 2019

Uganda: Court of Appeal to Hear Lc1 Bicycles Case Afresh

Kampala — The Court of Appeal has set April 24 for fresh hearing of an appeal where former Local Government permanent secretary John Muhanguzi Kashaka and others are challenging their conviction over corruption by the High Court.

The group had appeared yesterday in court with their lawyer, Mr David Mpanga, for the hearing of their appeal but the proceedings could not kick off.

"I only got communication from the justices to adjourn this matter to April 24," the court's deputy registrar, Ms Agnes Nkonge, told them.

The decision to hear the appeal afresh was made following the retirement of the lead judge in the case, former Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma, who retired in September 2017, without writing his judgment. Other justices were Augustine Nshimye and Rubby Aweri.

The appeal is to be heard afresh by justices Elizabeth Musoke, Hellen Obura and Cheborion Barishaki.

Kashaka and five others were sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Anti-Corruption Court in July 2014, for their criminal roles in the botched purchase of 70,000 bicycles for Local Council I chairpersons ahead of the 2011 General Election, causing government a financial loss of Shs4.2 billion.

The bicycles were meant for political mobilisation ahead of the elections.

Kashaka was jointly convicted with Henry Bamutura (former principal accountant); Robert Mwebaze (former principal procurement officer); Mr Sam Emorutu Erongot (former assistant commissioner for policy and planning); Mr Timothy Musherure (former consultant) and Mr Adam Bond Alum (member of evaluation committee).

They appealed in the Court of Appeal challenging their conviction and in 2014, were released on bail pending the hearing of their appeal. One of them, Mwebaze, has since died.

High Court judge Catherine Bamugemereire convicted Kashaka and banned him from working in a public office for 10 years after serving his prison sentence and ordered him to refund a sixth of the Shs4.2 billion lost in the bungled bicycle procurement.

In her judgment, Justice Bamugemereire observed that Kashaka and Bamutura should have exercised due diligence knowing that by signing a Shs4.2b shipping documents with discrepancies would cause government a financial loss.

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