Tanzania: Presidential Amnesty Sees 138 Suspects Free After Refund

A TOTAL of 138 suspects have been set free from various prisons countrywide after obtaining the amnesty granted by President John Magufuli to persons accused of committing economic crimes.

The freed persons have agreed to compensate the government billions of shillings they obtained through illegal channels.

The Director of Presidential Communication, Mr Gerson Msigwa, said in a statement released yesterday that President Magufuli made such revelation when he was launching Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) flights between Dar es Salaam and Mpanda at Mpanda Airport.

Dr Magufuli was winding up his nine-day official tour of Songwe, Rukwa and Katavi regions.

The statement also quoted the president as saying that the process was still ongoing for other 500 accused persons who had also applied for amnesty.

Among prominent people who have been released under the presidential amnesty having entered a plea-bargaining agreement with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on how to repay the loss occasioned includes the Chief Executive Officer of Bank M, Sanjeev Kumar Purushothaman, alias P. Sanjeev Kumar.

There are also renowned advocates, Dr Ringo Tenga and Frank Mwalongo, as well as former Tanzania Investment Bank ManagingDirector, Peter Noni, Six Telecoms Company Limited Managing Director, Hafidh Shamte, alias Rashid Shamte, and the Company's Chief Finance Officer, Noel Chacha.

On October 1, 2019, President Magufuli received a list of 467 economic sabotage suspects who have opted to plead guilty to their charges and repay over 100bn/- for release from remand prisons.

Such list was presented before him by the DPP, Mr Biswalo Mganga.

During the dossier receipt at the State House in Dar es Salaam, Dr Magufuli extended the deadline for more seven days up to October 7, 2019, to allow other accused persons who could have failed to meet the initial deadline.

The given procedure requires the accused to submit his or her confessions in hand writing to the DPP.

Such letter initiates a plea-bargaining agreement as indicated under the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA), as amended by the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments), (No.4) Act of 2019.

When an accused writes to the DPP for plea-bargaining process, the accused person or his/ her advocate or a public prosecutor has to notify the court when the case is being presided over of the intention to negotiate a plea agreement as per section 194A (2) of the Act.

President Magufuli had on September 22, 2019, while swearing in various leaders whom he had appointed, advised the DPP to consider dropping charges to persons facing economic crime through the legal channels should the defendants confess their crimes and repay the loss involved.

He, however, warned that after expiry of the new deadline there will be no mercy for economic sabotage criminals, ordering the chief prosecutor to press hard on their charges in courts.

He assured the suspects, and others who have not responded, that the amnesty was genuine.

He directed the DPP to expedite procedures for early release of the suspects, saying, "We also understand that some businesses by these suspects have stalled due to their incarceration, once released they will continue with their businesses from which the government will collect taxes."

The DPP said some suspects have agreed to confess and refund 7.884bn/-in local currency and 2.563 million US dollars (over 5.7bn/-), promptly raking in 13.6bn/-.

Other suspects have agreed to repay 94.240bn/-in installments as per agreement between the two parties, bringing the total amount to 107.842bn/- .

DDP Mganga asked President Magufuli to extend the deadline for at least three days, saying some letters had not reached his office due to the country's vastness and geography. The president consented to extend the period by seven days.

According to the DPP, one of the suspects last Friday responded and pleaded guilty before the court, immediately paying 450,000 US dollars (about 1.3bn/-) and 5m/- fine.

"During the same day, another suspect who was arrested with 2,123.64 grammes of various minerals and gemstones valued at 15,876 US dollars (about 36m/-) confessed, paid the fine and surrendered the minerals. "My office is closely scrutinizing charges facing the suspects on areas of agreement and altering the charges to enable them pay the money in courts in accordance with the law. This is aimed at avoiding the possibility of the suspect suing the government in future," he said.

He further he explained that after the submissions of the suspect pleas, his office will continue with other procedures in courts for their release as per requirements of the law.

President Magufuli condemned some prison officers whom he accused of frustrating suspects who are willing to respond to the amnesty by soliciting bribes from them.

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