Deported MTN ex-boss sues govt

Vanhelleputte says his deportation was irrational and illegal

The former chief executive officer (CEO) of telecommunications company MTN Uganda, Joris Wim Vanhelleputte, has dragged the Government to court, challenging his deportation.

In a suit filed against the Attorney General (AG) at the Civil Division of the High Court yesterday, Vanhelleputte says his deportation from Uganda to Belgium on February 14 was irrational and illegal. He filed the case through his lawyers, Birungi and Company Advocates.

“I seek a declaration that the deportation order issued against me by the internal affairs ministry was arbitrary, irrational and illegal,” Vanhelleputte says in his affidavit.

No fair hearing The former MTN boss says the process used by the internal affairs ministry to declare him ‘undesirable’ and his subsequent deportation was high-handed and contrary to the law, as he was never accorded a fair and just treatment before, during and after making of the deportation order.

“I am entitled to a fair and just treatment and due process before an administrative body or any person. I also have a right to be heard, which was never done,” he says.

 Vanhelleputte, who says he resides in Lubowa, Makindye Ssabagabo municipality, Wakiso district, also seeks damages over purported illegal detention and deportation and any other relief that the court shall deem fit. Vanhelleputte says since 1993, he has been a regular visitor in Uganda and is also married to Barbara Adoso, a Ugandan citizen and that the deportation will keep him away from his family.

The couple has two children, Jonathan Vanhelleputte, 17 and Jason Vanhelleputte, 13, who live in Uganda. Vanhelleputte reveals that he married Adoso on April 29, 2000 and that their marriage was celebrated both in Uganda and Belgium. He attached a marriage certificate to support his case.

Vanhelleputte says he has never committed any offence or criminal act under the laws of Uganda and neither is he responsible for breaking the law.

“There is no lawful reason whatsoever for my deportation,” he says.

He says he has been chief executive officer of various telecommunication companies since October 2001 and in different countries, including Ivory Coast, Senegal and Gabon, but has no criminal record.

Other MTN bosses who were deported from Uganda are Olivier Prentout (French), the chief marketing officer, Annie Tabura, a Rwandan national, who was MTN’s general manager for sales and distribution and Elza Muzzolini, an Italian national, who was the general manager mobile finance services.

The court registrar, Sarah Langa has directed the AG to file a defense in regard to the above allegations within 15 days.

“Should you fail to file a defense within the stated period, the plaintiff shall proceed with the case and judgement will be issued in your absence,” she warned, before allocating the file to Justice Musa Sekaana, who will preside over the matter.