Senior UPDF officers on trial over sh7b fraud

Wanyama and Ruhinda appearing before the

Two senior Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) officers are on trial before the General Court Martial (GCM) in Makindye over defrauding an investor of sh7b. Maj. Mark Wanyama, 42, attached to the UPDF Audit and Finance Department and Lt. Arthur Ruhinda, 39, attached to the Army’s Engineering Brigade are accused of soliciting a sh7b bribe from businessman Eria Mubiru, with threats that he would lose his contracts if he did not succumb to their demand.

They are also charged with fraud in connection with obtaining a motor vehicle registration No. UAN200R Hilux Double Cabin, blue in colour, from Mubiru. Prosecution alleges that the accused, between April 2013 and June 2014, in Kampala, demanded sh7b and obtained a motor vehicle from Mubiru. Mubiru, the proprietor of J2E Investment Corporation Limited, is a contractor with the Ministry of Defence. Appearing before the GCM on Tuesday, the accused’s lawyer, Paul Kuteesa, asked court to dismiss the case due to the State’s failure to produce witnesses to testify against the accused.

“My lord, my clients have reported to court 38 times, ever since they were granted bail, but so far, only one witness, whose evidence is incomplete, has testified. Delay in hearing cases is justice denied,” he said

Kuteesa said since October last year, prosecution has only brought one witness, Eria Mubiru. He further told court to use its powers to curtail the delay of trial by making orders, prompting prosecution to close its case for lack of evidence.

Prosecution to close its case for lack of evidence. “My clients are serving officers of the state. Why are they treated this way? They are not supposed to move out of Kampala and Wakiso, which is part of our bail terms, yet the case is being delayed by prosecution,” Kuteesa stated.

In response, Lt.Col. Raphael Mugisha, the state prosecutor, said the witness was not in court because of medical reasons.

“The witness did not turn up in court because he is sick. So, closing this case without hearing the witness’s full testimony will compromise the case,” Mugisha told court

After listening to the submissions of both parties, the court martial chairperson, Lt. Gen. Andrew Gutti, threatened to dismiss the case, if prosecution does not produce a witness next month, on April 23.