The convicted former permanent secretary in the Local Government ministry, John Muhanguzi Kashaka, was yesterday granted bail by the Court of Appeal, pending the hearing of his application against his sentence.
Kashaka is appealing the 10-year jail term handed to him for his role in the bungled purchase of 70,000 bicycles meant for local council one and parish chairpersons ahead of the 2011 general elections. Yesterday’s ruling came under controversial circumstances, with court Registrar Doe Nizeyimana throwing journalists out of court moments before. He also denied bail to Kashakaiacutes three co-convicts.
Kashaka and four others had applied for release on bail. But in September, Justice Solomy Balungi Bossa rejected their appeal, saying all the grounds presented by Kashaka, including ill health and aanced age of 60, did not constitute exceptional circumstances under the Trial and Indictment Act to warrant his release on bail.
However, they appealed that ruling to the three justices of the Court of Appeal on grounds that Bossa was harsh in denying them bail. When the case came up yesterday, Nizeyimana, who read the ruling, first ordered journalists out of court.
“All of you people [Media] get out. I only want the applicant [Kashaka] and his lawyers only. The rest you are not needed in this court,” he said as police officers bundled the journalists out.
In their ruling, justices Steven Kavuma, Augustine Nshimye and Rubby Opio Aweri accepted the argument of Kashaka’s lawyer, Mohamed Mbabazi, that in denying his client bail, Justice Bossa adopted the long-departed, harsher and outdated approach in bail applications.
“Refusal by court to grant bail pending appeal should neither be or be seen to be a punishment to the applicant who, though a convict at this stage, his or her presumption of innocence has not been completely extinguished,” they ruled.
As one of the conditions for grating him bail, the court ordered Kashaka to deposit his passport with the registrar of the Court of Appeal until the final determination of his appeal. Kashaka, the most high-profile of the convicts, applied for bail together with Henry Bamutura, Robert Mwebaze and Sam Emorut Erongot. Only Kashaka got his wish.
Source : The Observer