KAMPALA- Jailed former principal accountant in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Geoffrey Kazinda, has rejected court assessors appointed to give an opinion on his trial in which he is accused of stealing government money.
Mr Kazinda is on trial on charges of abuse of office, embezzlement, causing financial loss of more than Shs316 million to the government and diversion of public resources.
“My Lord, I am not comfortable with these court assessors given to me. I have been coming to the Anti-Corruption Court on different cases and these are the same people I have been seeing around and they know the gist of my case which I find prejudicial,” Kazinda told the trial judge yesterday.
“To make matters worse, even Mr Pius Bigirimana used them in his book he published about corruption,” Kazinda added.
Mr Bigirimana was the permanent secretary in the OPM when Kazinda allegedly committed the offences. Mr Bigirimana accused Kazinda of forging his signature to fleece government of billions of shillings in fraudulent transactions.
Kazinda is jointly charged with Ms Beatrice Kezabu (assistant resettlement officer), who is also separately charged with false accounting Ms Shamim Masembe, the proprietor and sole signatory of Total fuel station in Ntinda, and businessman Hussein Katumwa, the station manager.
Justice Lawrence Gidudu adjourned the trial to December 8 to enable court get new assessors for the case.
“To lay your fears at bay, I will disqualify this first assessor Hillary Jakloyo who has just come into the system,” Justice Gidudu.
Other assessors Ms Juliet Kasedwa and Mr Peter Kiggundu were not disqualified.
Prosecution alleges that Kazinda and his co-accused made false accountability for Shs316m in 201911, which money was entrusted to them for procurement of fuel and lubricants for vehicles delivering relief items to various areas in the country.
The docket for relief operations falls under the Prime Minister’s Office.
Mr Kazinda is facing 69 new charges in the same court in connection with theft of donor funds meant for recovery programmes in northern Uganda and Karamoja.
The charges relate to the misappropriation of more than Shs5.4 billion for post-war reconstruction in northern Uganda and Karamoja sub-regions under the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP).
On this indictment, he is charged along with former Finance ministry officials: Wilbert Okello (principal systems analyst), David Mugisha (senior economist) and Bright Atwine (senior account).
SOURCE: Daily Monitor