Legal Brains Trust has petitioned the Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala seeking issuance of criminal summons against parties in the case in which businessman Hassan Basajjabala and his brother are accused of tax evasion and forgery of a judicial document.
The petition signed by the Chief Executive Officer of Legal Brains Trust lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde follows delayed response to efforts demanding that the Director of Public Prosecutions resume the trial of the businessman and his brother Muzamiru Basajjabala.
On December 7th 2021 the not-for-profit organization Legal Brains Trust petitioned the DPP demanding an explanation why she has been silent about resuming the trial of the said brothers yet the Supreme Court which had caused the stalling of the trial for about eight years had since okayed its resumption in its November 19th, 2021 decision.
“We are concerned by the conspicuous silence of your esteemed office since then, why haven’t you taken out criminal summons against the suspects to commence and conclude this very important trial?” wrote Ssemakadde.
As a result, DPP Abodo wrote directing her Anti-Corruption Department to take on Ssemakadde’s petition and advised him to follow up with them.
But now, ten months later without the DPP taking any action, Ssemakadde has decided to petition the Chief Magistrates Court and the High Court Division of the Anti-Corruption court to summon the parties in the case.
“Reference is made to our correspondence with the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions regarding our complaint about the unjustified delay and/or failure to cause resumption of trial in the above-captioned matter in a breach of orders of the Supreme Court in Constitutional Appeal number one of 2018,” reads the petition.
It adds: “It is now more than 10 months since the Supreme Court dismissed the constitutional petition of the accused persons for lack of merit. Yet there is no indication that this Honorable Court has taken any steps to summon the accused persons for resumption of the trial.”
According to Legal Brains Trust, given that the DPP has failed to move the court for the resumption of trial, they now want the Court in the public interest to ensure the resumption of the said trial without further delay.
“Accordingly we implore this court to make orders for the expeditious trial of the accused persons and in particular to issue criminal summons for the appearance of the parties before Independence Day so that justice is seen to be done”, adds the petition.
The petition that has already been received by the Court further indicates that any further delay will leave the lawyers with no option but to invoke the inherent supervisory powers of the High Court as provided for under the Judicature Act.
According to Ssemakadde, the Basajjabalaba brothers are being given preferential treatment compared to other citizens with criminal charges against them.
The Judicature Act provides that the High Court shall exercise general powers of the supervision over Magistrates court and exercise its powers to prevent abuse of court process by curtailing delays in trials and delivery of judgment and to make orders for expeditious trials.
When contacted the DPP Spokesperson Jacqueline Okui regarding what happened to the petition Ssemakadde had brought before them last year, she said she needed time to find out.
Trouble for the brothers started way back in 2011 when it was decided to compensate Hassan Basajjabalaba with 142 billion shillings for the damages caused to him due to the government’s decision to cancel his lease contracts to develop and manage five city markets.
Basajjabalaba was reportedly supposed to pay a tax of 20 billion shillings but he failed to pay it and was accordingly charged in the Anti-Corruption Court, remanded, and later given bail together with his brother with whom they were accused of conspiring to evade tax, forgery of a court order, and uttering a false document.
But the brothers challenged the legality of their trial in the Constitutional Court and their case was dismissed and an order for their immediate trial was made.
The same decision was confirmed by the Supreme Court on November 19th 2021 by the Supreme Court Justices in a majority decision of six against one thereby paving way for the resumption of their trial.
In March 2020, the Constitutional Court Justices led by Justice Kenneth Kakuru ordered Basajjabalaba and his companies to refund to government all the money that was illegally paid to him as compensation for losing the tender to manage five city markets and the Constitutional Court.
The Justices noted that the compensation monies were paid to Basajjabalaba and his companies illegally following a contract that he had entered into with the defunct Kampala City Council without the advice of the Attorney General.
The decision followed a successful petition by Legal Brains Trust through their lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde who had asked court to direct Basajjabalaba, his companies and all the government officials implicated in this compensation saga to refund it as it had reportedly been obtained fraudulently.
However, both Basajjabalaba and Legal Brains Trust have since appealed against this matter and it is also pending hearing in the Supreme Court.
It’s against this background that the Legal Brains Trust has petitioned the Anti-Corruption court with an interest of having Basajjabalaba and his brother tried. URN