Col Bantariza Case – One Witness to Go

After a criminal trial spanning more than a year, the fraud case against former director of the National Leadership Institute (Nali), Col Shaban Bantariza, remains with only one prosecution witness before it is wound up.

Once the last witness testifies, Col Bantariza can decide to enter the dock at the UPDF General Court Martial in Makindye and defend himself. Should he opt to forfeit that opportunity, then the lawyers representing either side will make their final submissions, after which the seven-member panel led by Lt Gen Levi Karuhanga will deliver its verdict.

Bantariza, also a former deputy executive director of Uganda Media Centre, has battled several charges, including forgery, ill treatment of subordinate and fraudulent alterations to documents. During trial on Wednesday, prosecution declared, after producing its 11th witness, that it will close its case after presenting one more witness.

In some of the counts, prosecution, led by Capt Fredrick Kandwamu, contends that Bantariza and others still at large at NALI on or about February 3, 2011, forged vouchers alleging that he had paid for a tractor, UAN 652Z, and its accessories worth Shs 67 million.

On Wednesday, witness Abbey Kiyengo, a warrant officer, gave a glowing account of Bantariza’s leadership qualities, following in the footsteps of other witnesses who have spoken positively about the former army spokesman.

“To my knowledge, I have not known Col Bantariza ever making any payment voucher with an intention to deceive or defraud. If I am to evaluate him administratively, as asked, he was a good administrator,” said Kiyengo, 35, a former in- charge of medical services at Nali.

The case was adjourned to December 19 to allow prosecution present its last witness in the case, which was first heard by Brig Ddiba Ssentongo.

Source : The Observer

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