Uganda’s Court of Appeal has officially closed the six-year old file in which three of the country’s former ministers; Jim Muhwezi, Captain Mike Mukula and Dr Alex Kamugisha are accused and tried over misappropriating Shs 1.6 billion.
The money in question was meant for projects under the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) under the health ministry during the period when the trio was in charge of the health docket.
The head of prosecutions at the Inspectorate of Government Sydney Asubo on Tuesday informed the panel of judges led by Remmy Kasule that they intend to formally withdraw the 2008 preliminary appeal that arose out of Buganda Road Court proceedings that was now pending before their court.
Asubo explained that the preliminary appeal has already been overtaken by events.
This preliminary appeal arose in 2008 after the ex ministers protested the decision of Buganda Road Court to continue hearing their GAVI criminal case against their wish.
The ex ministers had wanted their case stayed and referred to the Constitutional Court for interpretation of certain contentious offenses preferred against them by the IGG.
In the process, they successfully petitioned the High Court that overturned the decision of Buganda Road Court and ordered that the ex ministers’ grievances be referred for interpretation, which decision, the IGG protested and appealed against leading to yesterday’s official withdraw, six years later for being “overtaken by events”.
The ex ministers were among others seeking constitutional interpretation that the act of the IGG in arresting and prosecuting them with offenses for which the IGG has no authority to prosecute them, was illegal.
In October 2007, the IGG arrested and preferred charges of abuse of office, theft, embezzlement, causing financial loss, making false documents, forgery and uttering false documents against the trio, all in connection to the Gavi funds which were being administered by the Ministry of Health.
But the ex ministers along with Ms Kaboyo had since been cleared by the suspended Anti Corruption Court.
However, Capt Mukula still has a pending appeal to battle against in which the IGG is challenging the cancellation of his four- year jail term earlier handed to him by the lower court for embezzling Shs210 million from the Gavi Fund account.
The three former ministers who had previously been implicated along with Alice Kaboyo, the former Private Secretary to President Museveni, did not appear in court in person. They instead sent their lawyers; Oscar Kambona and Anacklet Turyakira. Both lawyers welcomed Asubo’s submissions before emphasizing the withdrawal of the preliminary appeal against their clients.
Other justices on the panel who concurred with the decision of their senior justice included; Solomy Balungi Bossa, Eldad Mwangusya, Rubby Aweri Opio and Lillian Tibatemwa