What you need to know:
- Ms Kitutu had claimed that she was tortured by security agents and detectives of the Uganda Police and other state organs during investigations into the case.
Court has dismissed claims by Karamoja Affairs Minister Mary Goretti Kitutu that she was tortured by security agents during investigations into corruption-related cases regarding the loss of 9,000 iron sheets intended for the Karamoja Community Empowerment Programme.
Ms Kitutu had claimed that she was tortured by security agents and detectives of the Uganda Police and other state organs during investigations into the case.
The dismissal of the application means that Dr Kitutu, also the Woman MP for Manafwa District, will now stand trial before the Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court.
Justice Jane Okuo of the Anti-Corruption Court Tuesday ruled that the investigations into the alleged theft of iron sheets and the resultant criminal charges were not irreparably tainted with gross abuse of Dr Kitutu's non-derogable rights with the effect that her trial is a nullity in law.
“Members and agents of the Uganda Police, the Parliamentary Committee on Presidential Affairs and other state institutions did not subject the applicant to torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment during the course of their investigations against her,” Justice Okuo held.
She also dismissed Dr Kitutu’s assertions that the media reporting about the case violated her right to a fair hearing.
Dr Kitutu was on August 6, 2023, charged jointly with Abaho Joshua a Senior Assistant Secretary at OPM and her brother Naboya Kitutu Micheal with the offenses of loss of public property and conspiracy to defraud.
The charges relate to the alleged diversion of iron sheets for the Karamoja Community Development Programme. They denied the charges and were subsequently committed to the High Court for trial.
However, before the trial could commence, Dr Kitutu asked the court to dismiss the charges against her citing that she was tortured by security agents and detectives of the Uganda Police and other state organs during investigations into the case.
Justice Okuo declined to hold that Dr Kitutu's right to a fair trial was offended by the state's refusal to disclose the findings and that it is supported by the fact that the trial has not started.
Justice Okuo held that there was no evidence adduced by Dr Kitutu to warrant a conclusion that the decision to prosecute her and not the rest of the suspects was exercised in contravention of Article 120 (5) of the Constitution and in a manner that is unfair, oppressive, discriminative and persecutory.
“There is no justification or grounds for the applicant (Kitutu)'s expectation that all the suspects in the iron sheets case should be treated exactly the same way. There is no indication that the cases against the applicant and the suspects not prosecuted are essentially the same, requiring that all are either prosecuted or all are conversely set free and allowed to return the iron sheets. They have failed to establish unjust or prejudicial treatment in the DPP's decision to charge. It is a cardinal point of law that he who asserts has the burden to prove. I am not satisfied that this burden has been met,” the court ruled.
The court further dismissed Dr Kitutu’s claim that she was threatened, blindfolded, and driven around to unknown places through the night to locate the iron sheets saying that the evidence tendered fell short of the requisite standard.
Justice Okuo overruled Dr Kitutu’s claim that she was not given food, no access to relatives or lawyers and that she was detained for more than 48 hours.