Court petitioned over delayed Basajjabalaba trial

Businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba contests claims saying he is not going to seek re-election. File photo

What you need to know:

  • The petitioner, Legal Brains Trust, says it is more than a year since the Supreme Court ordered the trial of the businessman in vain...

The head of the Anti-Corruption Court, Justice Lawrence Gidudu, has been asked to intervene and cause the prosecution of the Shs142b corruption case against city businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba.

Legal Brains Trust, the complainant, in their petition to Justice Gidudu contend that it is more than a year since the Supreme Court ordered the trial of the businessman in vain.

“We represent the applicant in the above captioned matter. It seeks to invoke the High Court’s inherent supervisory powers …in relation to criminal case no. 003 of 2013 Uganda Vs Hassan Basajjabalaba and Muzamiru Basajjabalaba wherein the DPP and the lower court have failed to take a demonstrable step in expediting trial of the Basajjabalaba brothers despite having received a green light from the Supreme Court on November 19, 2021- more than a year ago,” the compliant to the head of the court reads in part.

When contacted last evening, Justice Gidudu said he has not yet looked at the petition. “I have been training new judges in Entebbe and I haven’t been at court today (yesterday). But tomorrow, when I get to office, I will work on it, I don’t sleep over matters,” he said by telephone.

In May 2018, the Constitutional Court directed that the Basajjabalaba brothers, Hassan and Muzamiru, stand trial before the Anti-Corruption Court. The court held that their trial wasn’t unconstitutional since the said charges fall under the ambit of the Anti-corruption Act.

The Basajjabalaba brothers, had challenged their prosecution before the Anti-Corruption Court, citing a number of constitutional breaches and had asked the Constitutional Court to quash it.

The duo faces several charges ranging from forgery of a judicial document to uttering of a false document and conspiracy to defeat tax laws.

The charges arise from the government cancellation of Mr  Hassan Basajjabalaba’s lease contracts to develop several markets and other facilities around Kampala City for which he was compensated Shs142b for the loss.

However, after being compensated, a private citizen started a private prosecution of the businessman, accusing him of not paying taxes arising out of the huge compensation.

Likewise, Legal Brains Trust of Uganda sued Basajjabalaba alongside his five companies; Haba Group, Victoria International Trading Company, Sheila Investments, Yudaya International Limited and the First Merchant International Trading Company.

It is alleged that Mr Basajjabalaba and his companies entered into an agreement with then Kampala city authority (KCC) to manage, own and redevelop Owino, Nakasero and Shauliyako markets, and the Constitutional Square, but the said contracts were entered into without the advice of the Attorney General.

Unrest on the part of the traders led to a cancellation of the contracts, compelling the businessman to appeal to President Museveni, who referred the matter to the Attorney General.

An interdepartmental evaluation committee, which was set up to review Haba Group’s claims, recommended Shs54.7b compensation, but then Attorney General Khiddu Makubuya allegedly proposed a payment of compensation in the range of Shs142.7b and another of about Shs29.9b in respect of Nakawa market, which had never been part of the contracted markets.

During the hearings, Legal Brains Trust prayed for orders, directing Mr Basajjabalaba and his firms to return all the money they had been paid and banks return money that they had been paid from the Consolidated Fund.

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