stronKampala- stronThe Director Public Prosecution (DPP) has sanctioned 69 new charges against the jailed former principal accountant in the Office of the Prime Minister, Geoffrey Kazinda in connection with theft of donor aid meant for northern Uganda and Karamoja.
On behalf of DPP, Senior Principal State Attorney Vincent Wagona presented before the Anti-Corruption Court, the amended charges against Kazinda, who is currently serving a five-year jail term, confirming several new offences.
Kazinda, who appeared in court yesterday, is charged along with former Finance ministry officials: Wilbert Okello (principal system analyst), David Mugisha (senior economist) and Bright Atwine (senior account).
“Originally, the four accused were charged with diversion of public resources, abuse of office and conspiracy to defraud, but [we have found new evidence against] the accused persons and the issue now is on different transactions,” Mr Wagona said. Mr Wagona added: “It’s true it was one big case at first but in the course, it was found that there are many transactions made by the accused persons at different times.”
The 69 offences the State brought against Kazinda relate to the misappropriation of more than Shs5.4b meant for post-war reconstruction in northern Uganda and Karamoja sub-regions under the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP).
However, when the four accused persons appeared before Justice Margaret Tibulya to answer the new charges against them, they pleaded not guilty.
Justice David Wangutusi of the Anti-Corruption Court in June last year ruled that Kazinda was guilty of 29 counts of fraud as had been indicated by the prosecution.
Key among the accusations was that Kazinda forged more than 20 signatures of his then boss and permanent secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Mr Pius Bigirimana, with intent to defraud the institution.
Among the forged documents were security papers and withdraw forms (both sensitive documents used in transaction of huge sums of money), which were recovered by the police from Kazinda’s home in Bukoto, a Kampala suburb.
Kazinda’s lawyer, Mr Richard Omongole, however, requested for constitutional interpretation on the government decision to retry Kazinda yet he was convicted on the same offences.
His argument was that since it was one big case, the DPP would have brought the new charges before Kazinda was convicted.
“This is continued sequencing of the same issues. The new indictment falls within the same period (201011-201112), so Mr Kazinda cannot be charged with the offences of forgery, causing financial loss and others because the facts remain the same.”The new offences brought against Kazinda include causing financial loss, forgery, abuse of office and criminal conspiracy.
The trial judge adjourned the matter to July 28 to deliver her ruling on whether Kazinda’s file should be sent the Constitutional Court or not.
Senior Principal State Attorney Vincent Wagona said evidence shows that many security papers used to transfer the money from the PRDP account in Bank of Uganda to Crisis Management Account, without the knowledge of the accounting officer had forged signatures of Mr Bigirimana and genuine signatures of Mr Kazinda.
He said the analysis of payments above Shs15m and above Shs20m for 201011 and 201112, revealed that from the sample, out of the 473 security papers confirmed, 74.5 per cent were confirmed by Mr Kazinda, 10.6 per cent were confirmed by Mr Bigirimana, while 14.9 per cent were confirmed by other OPM staff.
The Auditor General, in October 2012 report to Parliament noted that the Crisis Management Account on which Shs14b from Norway, Sweden and Netherlands were irregularly channeled, had been dormant for almost two years.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor