KAMPALA- The Anti-Corruption Court yesterday ruled that it will continue hearing the case of illicit enrichment against jailed former principal accountant in Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Geoffrey Kazinda, despite the Constitutional Court order for his release from prison on other corruption charges.
When the case came up for further hearing, Kazinda’s defence lawyer Ali Hussein Kato told trial judge Margaret Tibulya how the Constitutional Court last Friday halted all corruption proceedings against his client that arose from his employment at OPM.
The prosecution led by Ms Daizy Acio, a prosecutor from the Office of the Inspector General of Government (IGG), clarified that the Constitutional Court stopped other cases but did not halt the hearing of the case of illicit enrichment against Kazinda. She asked the presiding judge to proceed with the trial on the said charge.
The prosecution quoted the Constitutional Court’s judgment where it stated; “This finding, however, excludes criminal case no. 59/2016 on charges of illicit wealth, contrary to S.33 (i) and (ii) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2009. Article 28(9) of the Constitution does not affect the charges of illicit wealth because it is not of the same character as the charges discussed above.”
The Anti-Corruption Court agreed with the IGG submissions and ruled that the hearing of illicit enrichment case would proceed.
Kazinda’s counsel informed the trial court of his intention to appeal the ruling and requested for a copy of the proceedings.
However, Justice Tibulya told Mr Kato that he had no right of appeal, this being an interlocutory ruling. Kazinda’s lawyer excused himself from further representing him in this case. Further hearing of Kazinda’s defence continues today.
According to the UN Convention against corruption, illicit enrichment is the significant increase in the assets of a public official that he or she cannot reasonably explain in relation to his or her lawful income.
Kazinda was first arrested on July 22, 2012 and charged on August 9, 2012 before the Anti-Corruption Court in Kololo, Kampala. He was charged with two counts of abuse of office, two counts of fraudulent false accounting and one count of causing financial loss. He was also charged with 26 counts of forgery and conspiracy to commit a felony for which he was later released on bail.
But on Friday last week, in a majority decision of 4:1, the Constitutional Court declared that the criminal cases against Kazinda, which are based on similar facts were null and void and ordered his release.