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Court Okays Prosecution of Kitutu Over Ugx 1.5 Billion Loss :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Court Okays Prosecution of Kitutu Over Ugx 1.5 Billion Loss

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In a ruling delivered on Monday by Lady Justice Jane Okuo Kajuga of the Anti-Corruption Court, it was determined that this case is separate from the one involving allegations regarding iron sheets against Kitutu.
20 Feb 2024 07:08
Minister Kitutu in the dock
The Anti-Corruption Court has granted the Inspectorate of Government approval to prosecute Mary Gorreti Kitutu Kimono, the Minister of Karamoja Affairs, on accusations of mismanaging 1.5 billion Shillings earmarked for peace-building activities. 

In a ruling delivered on Monday by Lady Justice Jane Okuo Kajuga of the Anti-Corruption Court, it was determined that this case is separate from the one involving allegations regarding iron sheets against Kitutu. The court found no connection between the two cases. Kitutu's legal woes began when she was summoned in December 2023 to appear before the Inspectorate of Government concerning the mismanagement of funds for peace-building activities. 

The accusation alleges that between February and June 2022, while serving as Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Kitutu neglected various peace-building initiatives in the Karamoja sub-region, resulting in financial losses amounting to 1,555,365,000 Shillings for the government. 

Alongside Kitutu, Geoffrey Sseremba (Secretary/Accounting Officer), Deogratius Masagazi (Under Secretary/Head of Department, Pacification and Development Programme), and Tracy Atuhirwe (Accountant), all from the Office of the Prime Minister, face charges in this case. Despite summons issued by the Magistrates Court for her appearance, Kitutu did not respond. 

Subsequently, a criminal summons was issued for her to appear in court on February 29th, 2024. However, Kitutu, represented by her legal team led by Jude Byamukama, challenged the summons, claiming a violation of her right to a fair trial. She argued that previous charges related to the mismanagement of supplementary funds, particularly in the iron sheets case, already subjected her to legal scrutiny. 

The Inspectorate of Government's decision to initiate further investigations on similar grounds amounted to a breach of her constitutional rights. Kitutu's plea for the dismissal of charges was countered by the Inspectorate of Government, represented by Beti Kamya, who asserted that the charges were distinct and necessary for addressing the grievances of the vulnerable population in Karamoja. 

In her ruling, Lady Justice Kajuga sided with the Inspectorate of Government and the Attorney General, stating that the cases were indeed unrelated. She clarified that while the previous case focused on allegations of diverting iron sheets, the current one pertained to the mismanagement of funds designated for peace-building activities.

Kajuga emphasized the lack of evidence linking the two cases, both in terms of the alleged offenses and the individuals involved. "I have no evidence at this stage to show what the peacebuilding activities were, not the specifics of the monitoring and implementation activities. What is clear is that these are presented as distinct from the procurement, distribution, or alleged diversion of iron sheets,” said Kajuga. 

She added, "It cannot be said that from the beginning, the various offenses were in contemplation, or necessarily arose therefore or formed parts of one whole transaction.” Regarding Kitutu's non-appearance and the subsequent issuance of charges, the Judge found no grounds to suggest prejudice to her defense or infringement of her rights. 

"For that reason, the Inspectorate had the right to issue summons and conduct investigations into the allegations not covered by the DPP. I'm unable to find that these summons and investigations prejudiced her right to a fair trial", adds Kajuga. Kitutu's legal team expressed dissatisfaction with the ruling, citing concerns about the fairness of the investigative process.  

“In our view, the Judge has disregarded the import of the decision of the Constitutional Court in Kazinda vs AG to the effect that initiating piecemeal investigations against an accused person offends the right to a fair trial,” said Byabakama.

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