THREE BULGARIANS have been sentenced to 20 years in prison for forging 33 Stanbic Bank Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards.
Ivan Ganchev, Millen Katarski, Adrian Dimitrov received 20 years in total while their co-accused Anton Ivanov was given ten years in prison. “ATM forgery is a serious sophisticated economic crime. The protection of the bank and government overrides the individual mitigating factors of the accused,” Buganda Road Grade I Magistrate Julius Borore ruled yesterday.
He sentenced the first three accused to two years on each count and reasoned that since the charges stem from different transactions in different places and at different times the first ten counts will run consecutively and the sentence for the rest of the 20 counts are to run concurrently. The prosecutor Martin Rukundo had asked court for their deportation but Borore ruled that the order for deportation be left to the Minister of Internal Affairs to initiate deportation proceedings
after the accused serve their sentences. The defence lawyer Charles Dalton Opwonya had asked for a caution, arguing that the four months they had spent on remand serve as their punishment. He argued that the accused had their constitutional rights violated when they were arrested and detained in police cells before being produced in court and that even after they were granted bail, the police went ahead to re-arrest them and charged them in Nakawa Court.
The accused though, had implored court not to order their deportation to Bulgaria because they wanted to continue with their farming business which includes dealing in cotton, sugar and coffee. The Magistrate based his decision on testimony of ten witnesses; specifically the testimony of Daniel Oryiakot, the fifth prosecution witness, who told court that the accused tampered with surveillance cameras in the ATM rooms and that of the fourth witness Charles Omara, a security officer at Stanbic Bank who produced video footage of the accused in some of the Bank’s ATM rooms.
The four, all residents of Naalya in Kampala District were charged with 33 counts of forgery, conspiracy to forge the ATM cards and accessing bank data without authorisation. Borore however acquitted them of the charges of conspiracy and accessing bank data without authorisation. Their lawyer Charles Dalton Opwonya said he is going to appeal the sentence.